UOW students

As I write it has been an exciting week, with new senior medical students commencing their year-long placement in various locations across the North Coast. The University of Wollongong (UOW), in collaboration with the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast (UCRH), has three regional training hubs, Murwillumbah, Lismore and Grafton. Each year, these hubs offer 20 extended clinical training opportunities that are highly contended amongst the University’s medical students.

“The word amongst my peers and classmates who  have completed placement on the North Coast is that the educational opportunities are excellent. Staff are welcoming and so willing to teach, the clinical experiences so diverse,” said current UOW medical student Alexander Mills.

The North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN) has announced it will receive $720,000 in federal funding for a new funding partnership with North Coast GP Training, which will be a range of local networking and education events.

Investment in building the skills and capacity of primary health care workers is a proven strategy to ensuring a healthy community, according to the PHN, the coordinating body an estimated 6,200 primary health care professionals working within its Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie footprint.

Veterinary surgeon Mike Fitzgerald

As someone who works all day with animals, as a Veterinarian, I am often reminded of W.C.Fields’ famous quote : “never work with children or animals”. It helps to trot this one out when my furry patient is not sticking to the script or has an entirely different agenda.

Last week I was reminded of the enormous value of animals, in particular the canine species, working with us humans, when I met Bruce the labradoodle who had been trained to work as an Assistance dog for a client who suffered from PTSD/Anxiety.

Bruce seemed like your normal happy, tail-wagging young dog during his checkup and immunisation. The only clue that he was different was the red harness his owner held, emblazoned with the words ASSISTANCE DOG.

Dr David Glendinning

David Glendinning is an advanced trainee studying for his fellowship in general practice. When he is not studying he suffers déjà vu with his friends and family.

“Hi mate, haven’t seen you for a while,” says David’s mate.

“Yeah, sorry mate, I’ve been studying.”

“Studying? What I thought you were all done?”

“Not quite. I’ve been studying for my Fellowship.”

Jenny Dowell (right, as Clairee) and Elyse Knowles (left, as Annelle) in Steel Magnolias

These days nearly all of us are lucky enough to retire in reasonable health. After a lifetime of making critical decisions day in and day out, with others supposedly following our every instruction, the shift to retirement can be a shock. Some come to suffer what former Labor politician Gareth Evans called “relevance deprivation syndrome”. 

Keeping active in mind and body is the key to warding off the vicissitudes of old age or at least delaying them. 

Some research in this area is being undertaken by the Maintain Your Brain study, funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. The study is a randomised controlled trial of multiple online interventions designed to target modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Risk factors to be addressed are physical inactivity, cognitive inactivity, depression/anxiety, overweight and obesity, and poor dietary habits.