Ararat's Addie Jamieson along with other first-year Deakin University medical students spent time getting to know Ballarat on an 'immersion tour' where they visited the sights, toured health facilities, and talked to medical professionals who have chosen to train and work in the region.
Among the group were members of the first intake of Deakin's Rural Training Stream - students from the region who have been specially selected for medical training in Deakin's Rural Clinical Schools with the hope that they will remain in the country to live and work as graduate doctors.
Ms Jamieson said the experience was "really good" as she was able to learn the ropes of what it would mean to be a rural practitioner.
"I was able to be exposed to the recourses that Ballarat had I didn't realise the breadth of specialties they have out there and the opportunities that they have," she said.
"I didn't realise how much these rural areas take on themselves and the need for doctors to be going back to those areas."
Ms Jamieson said she chose to go to Ballarat as part of her 'immersion tour' because being from Ararat she understood the resources they would have.
"With the collaboration with Ballarat health and East Grampians Health Service, they are looking at getting us to go between the two which I think is a really great opportunity to spread those recourses around," she said.
"We immersed ourselves in what rural and remote areas have to offer, the lifestyle they have and the facilities they have for teaching opportunities."
After experiencing the health care system firsthand as a child, she knew action needed to be made.
"I was in the Ararat hospital for a week then I was discharged and then I was then sent back but the doctor was out of town so they sent me to Ballarat in an ambulance to have life-saving surgery," she explained.
"It gave me an idea that out here we don't have the doctors or the recourses available to sustain the population that is there.
"I want to be a part of that change in spreading those recourses around because I quite enjoy living in a rural area and getting to work in an important capacity in the community."
Ms Jamieson said the COVID-19 pandemic didn't push her away from her goal practicing rurally, yet made the need for rural doctors clearer.
"I think the pandemic has definitely emphasised the need to spread recourses more rurally due to the sheer fact there were lockdowns and I think patients were less inclined to go to metropolitan areas because the numbers were so high," she said.
The 'immersion tour' saw Deakin University students complete three days in Ararat, Ballarat, Colac, Portland, Horsham, Camperdown, Stawell, Hamilton and Daylesford
"Rural and regional areas continue to face a critical shortage of doctors and medical workforce generally," Deakin Rural Community Clinical School director Associate Professor Lara Fuller.
"We've designed this as a completely immersive experience so that our students get to know these communities because we know that graduate doctors are more likely to work in country areas when they feel a sense of community and belonging to those areas.
"The evidence 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.
"And there is emerging evidence that the best outcomes occur when students from rural communities are able to complete their training within their own geographic region."
Deakin Ballarat clinical school director Sue Garner said 90 students in all from Deakin's first year medical course were involved across the state.
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from The Ararat Advertiser. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Ararat shire, sign up here.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.