Two Monash medical students studying in Bendigo, Samantha Congdon and Sophie Fontaine, have recently taken up roles as the Loddon Mallee student representatives on the Victorian Rural Generalist Program (VRGP) living their shared passion for rural medicine that makes a difference.

The Victorian Rural Generalist Program supports a statewide end-to-end training program for the General Practitioners to train, work and live in rural and regional Victoria with additional specialist skills.such as anaesthetics, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology or paediatrics. This model ensures rural communities have better access to current and in depth care at their local GP clinic and supports the many Urgent Care centres and Bush Nursing Homes - Rural Generalists also work to improve access to local Women’s health services, mental health, day surgery procedures, and other areas of medicine in the Loddon Mallee.

Both Samantha and Sophie have demonstrated a significant interest in rural health throughout their medical training, and this appointment further illustrates their commitment to future rural practice.

Samantha is currently in her final year of Medical school in Bendigo and says:

“I have fallen in love with the rural lifestyle and know that no matter what career pathway I end up undertaking, I would like to live and work rurally.”

Samantha looks forward to contributing a student perspective to the VRGP, particularly in the recruitment of students to the program as they graduate from medical school.

Sophie grew up in Gippsland and is currently completing her GP clinical placements in Macedon region and will finish her studies next year. Coming from a rural background and as an active volunteer with local community groups, Sophie understands the significant role a Rural Generalist can play in their own community.

“I am committed to working as a doctor in the country as I know just how sought after they are and the unique benefits country living has to offer! I really like the idea of becoming a Rural Generalist one day as I am naturally curious and driven to constantly further develop my skills.”

Loddon Mallee VRGP Regional Coordinator Gemma Bilardi is grateful for the participation and input of current medical students in VRGP committee meetings.

“Having students like Samantha and Sophie on our committee helps us to understand the factors that draw medical students to a career pathway in Rural Generalism, and shape our strategies to build a strong workforce in rural areas.”

Deputy Head of School at Monash Rural Health, Associate Professor Chris Holmes offered his congratulations to Samantha and Sophie on their appointment.

“It is very important that trainees with ambitions to practice in rural communities have the opportunities to complete as much of their training in rural and regional areas as possible, and to have flexible programs which allow them to develop their knowledge and experience aligned with their individual interests. We hope this experience will influence Sam and Sophie’s future careers in a very positive way, and they’ll be passionate about practising Rural Generalist medicine in the Loddon Mallee region.”