Doctor Amanda Gibbons recently celebrated her first year at Halls Gap's Budja Budja Aboriginal Cooperative Medical Centre, having developed a passion for serving rural communities.
While studying for a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at Deakin University in Geelong, Dr Gibbons completed a 12-month placement at a general practice in Ararat.
Dr Gibbons said this placement revealed to her the positive effect a general practice could have on a community.
"The placement in Ararat was a real turning point for me," she said.
"I got a lot more hands-on experience than my colleagues in city hospitals and was really able to see the value of a GP's work in the community."
The placement encouraged Dr Gibbons to later return to the region and become Budja Budja Aboriginal Cooperative's first full-time GP.
Dr Gibbons said her time at the clinic has been very fulfilling.
"This has been such a rewarding time for me professionally," she said.
"I really feel that I am part of the community and have the chance to see the outcomes of my work with patients on a daily basis.
"It is very diverse work, medically, so I have experienced a huge amount of professional growth as well."
Deakin University is presently aiming to have more medical students follow Dr Gibson's example.
Deakin's Rural Community Clinical School director Associate Professor Lara Fuller said there is a pressing need for more medical professionals in rural areas.
"Rural and regional areas continue to face a shortage of doctors and medical workforce generally," she said.
"The evidence from Australia and internationally tells us that students from a rural background who complete extended training in a rural clinical school are far more likely to work in rural areas after graduation."
Deakin's School of Medicine has subsequently announced it will launch its Rural Training Stream program in 2022.
The program will seek to recruit graduate students from rural and regional backgrounds who wish to practice rural medicine.
The South West Victoria and the Grampians region are among the program's partner communities, with priority to be given to applicants in these regions.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Ararat Advertiser, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ararat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.