First-in-family medical student hopes to improve lives of rural people

5 AUGUST 2021

First-in-family medical student hopes to improve lives of rural people

For 39-year-old Anthony Vidler, growing up in Emerald, Queensland, highlighted the health disparity between the city and the country, and spurred a desire to pursue a career in medicine by studying at Charles Sturt University in Orange.

Anthony Vidler’s parents farmed beef cattle in Emerald, a small town in the central highlands of Queensland, population about 14,000, where mining and farming are the main industries in the region.

He is the first in his family to pursue a career in health and to go to university, and is now enrolled in the Doctor of Medicine in the Charles Sturt School of Rural Medicine in Orange.

“My interest in a career in health was partly spurred by growing up in Emerald, which provided me with a looking glass into the health disparity between the city and the country, particularly in aspects of youth metal health, and illness resulting from obesity, drugs and alcohol,” Anthony said.

“Then later, working with clients in my former career as a sports scientist, specifically in rehabilitation and bariatrics, really triggered my desire to merge the two fields that made me happiest ─ working with people who are at their most vulnerable, and the human body.

“For me a career in medicine has been a discovery, because until my late 30s I never felt confident that my academic ability was of a standard that would enable me to be accepted into medicine.”

Anthony (pictured) said when he found out he had been accepted into medicine at Charles Sturt he experienced a combination of elation, fear, anxiety and pride.

“I was obviously excited, however, a small part of me always felt medicine was somewhat of a pipe dream and when the offer arrived part of me felt like I had won some form of admission lottery,” he said.

“Charles Sturt University was my second interview with a medical school, however, after the interview I felt so much more comfortable with the Charles Sturt staff. I’m very relieved that it turned out I was selected to study with the University in Orange.”

Anthony explained that professionally, rural medicine offers options for diversity and an opportunity to make some significant changes to the lives of others.

“On a personal level, I feel somewhat claustrophobic in big cities and I feel the lifestyle and people in regional and rural areas are more conducive to building enduring relationships,” he said.

“I also hope to mix my career as a doctor with my cattle farming interests.”

Anthony is aware of the lack of doctors in rural and regional communities and said he feels more can be done to improve services and the accessibility of quality health care outside of metropolitan areas, but he understands the challenges that exist in making it a reality.

“I’m not really one for politics, so for me it’s more about being the best doctor I can be and doing all that I can to improve the health outcomes in regional and remote areas at the doctor-patient level, regardless of how large or small my role is,” he said.

Noting that the Charles Sturt Doctor of Medicine is structured differently to other medicine programs, with more hands-on learning and a broad range of clinical placements, Anthony said he feels the Charles Sturt approach also helps maintain the academic motivation with regular reminders of what he’s working toward.

“I think the course is amazing, because learning from a textbook has never been a strength of mine, so a more kinaesthetic approach is certainly more appealing to me,” he said.

“The placements begin early in the degree and are varied, so you’re consistently meeting a broad range of professionals in ever-changing settings, which I feel will be beneficial to become a practitioner of diverse abilities.

“I’m absolutely loving the course thus far, and I’m surprised how approachable the staff are. I had this impression of medical school being conducted by professors and faculty who viewed you as subordinate minions, but that’s just not the case.

“The entire faculty are motivating, approachable and just as motivated to see the cohort succeed as is the cohort.”

Anthony said COVID-19 is certainly throwing a spanner in the works regarding his first clinical placements and the selection of towns where he may do placements in the next 12 months.

“But being a rural school, it’s very apparent that we are going to have a great deal of diversity and choice regarding future placement, so that’s certainly exciting,” he said.

Anthony doesn’t have any specific career aspirations or plans for the future, but he feels there are so many specialties and sub-specialties within medicine that it would be foolish to only be open to one career path.

“I love it all so far, but I figure I will come across a field that will really incite some passion and that will inevitably guide my career in medicine,” he said.

Applications for the Doctor of Medicine are now open through UAC. Prospective students can find more information at study.csu.edu.au/medicine. Rural and regional applicants are encouraged to check out the Rural Entry Admission Scheme. Applications close on 30 September.


Media Note:

To arrange interviews contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or news@csu.edu.au

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