JOINING the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in remote areas of south-west Queensland is an experience University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Fraser Coast nursing student Dee Woodgate hopes isn’t once-in-a-lifetime.
The opportunity to serve alongside some of Australia’s best rural doctors and nurses is offered to only a few third-year USQ students each year. Most students are placed in local hospitals.
Ms Woodgate and two fellow students, Michelle Bott and Eve Silvester, have recently completed the two-week practical modules of their degree programs with the RFDS. Aaron Smith will follow in August.
Returning from Charleville this week, Ms Woodgate said her RFDS experience was “absolutely amazing”.
“I loved it,” Ms Woodgate said.
“The RFDS team was very inspirational. The nurses are very highly qualified, each with a huge range of university degrees from Accident and Emergency to ICU and Midwifery.”
“RFDS personnel have to be multi-qualified. They see patients with a huge range of problems, everything from pathology to broken arms, heart conditions, immunisation and birthing. They also help with education.”
Ms Woodgate said her daily flights with the RFDS took her to areas such as Quilpie, Stonehenge and Windorah.
“Mostly we did clinics at two stops per day. Some days we did call-outs.
“One day while taking a woman from Charleville enroute to Brisbane we picked up a man with severe abdominal pain in Quilpie.
“After we dropped the lady off in Brisbane we took the man to Toowoomba. While there we picked up two more patients and took them to St George and Roma. That was a 14-hour day.
“Most communities have areas specially set up for RFDS clinics, for example in Yaraka we used a community hall and in another place it was a kitchen.”
The third-year USQ Fraser Coast nursing student said her RFDS experience was one of the few times she had visited Queensland’s outback.
“Aside from short visits to Windorah and Longreach I previously haven’t been out that way.
“After graduating I’d like to do more rural or remote nursing but it will be many more years before I’m qualified enough to join the RFDS team full-time.”
Ms Woodgate’s 19 year-old daughter is also enrolled in the Bachelor of Nursing program at USQ Fraser Coast.
“She is very proud of me, as I am of her. I also have a 17-year-old daughter who is still deciding her future.”
Photo: USQ Fraser Coast nursing student Dee Woodgate gets practical experience with the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Charleville. [Contributed]