8 August 2023

Boots to scrubs: Scholarship smooths path for rural women to fill regional GP void

| Gail Eastaway
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A new scholarship is being launched to help rural women become doctors.

Bombala medical student Chloe Campbell is promoting a new program to assist rural women to become doctors. Photo: AMSA.

The battle to bring more doctors to the bush has a new warrior.

Thanks to a new program being launched by the Australian Medical Students’ Association, this month, young women from regional areas across Australia will – for the first time – be offered significant and targeted assistance to pursue a career in rural medicine.

The aptly named Boots to Scrubs: Rural Women in Medicine Scholarship has already attracted strong support from a range of organisations, including the Rural Doctors Network (RDN) and the NSW Medical Women’s Society (MWS), and launched a comprehensive digital information and resource platform.

The Boots to Scrubs concept is the brainchild of AMSA gender equity advocacy and policy officer Chloe Campbell, who is a third-year rural medical student at Charles Sturt University (CSU).

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Chloe, from Bombala, said the idea of providing targeted education scholarships for women from remote rural areas, along with a range of student resources and professional mentoring from some of Australia’s leading rural medical practitioners, was all about creating more accessible and more easily negotiated pathways for regional students considering a career as a rural GP or country doctor.

“The scholarship aims to inspire, empower and support rural women to pursue a career as a rural doctor,” Chloe said.

“I strongly believe that by actively supporting and inspiring more individuals from rural backgrounds to pursue medical careers, we can address the pressing need for rural doctors.

“Having grown up in a secluded town where the availability of mentors or individuals with firsthand experience in pursuing a career in medicine was limited, I have personally encountered the challenges and obstacles that rural women face in accessing such opportunities.

“At school I was never the smartest in the class and struggled with dyslexia, never quite finding traditional learning easy, so I never considered that I could study a degree like medicine.

“I did, however, find a love for health care. The joy of working in rural communities and giving back to the country is a feeling that will never get old.

“I was lucky enough to have a doctor tap me on the shoulder and suggest medicine while I was training to be a nurse. I had never even considered medicine and had to navigate the pathway to becoming a doctor alone.

”Through Boots to Scrubs, we want to be the tap on the shoulder women need to consider medicine and feel supported to venture into this amazing career.”

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For more information on how to apply for the Boots to Scrubs free education resources, and for details on the scholarship opportunities for 2024, visit https://bootstoscrubs.amsa.org.au/.

Or follow the program on social media at @bootstoscrubs on Instagram, or “Boots to Scrubs” on Facebook.

If you are interested in supporting the program and would like more information about sponsoring a scholarship or becoming a mentor, email Chloe at [email protected].

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