This International Women’s Day, The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is celebrating the incredible breadth of female talent taking the lead in rural health.
AMSA’s Rural Health Committee, a student-run committee comprises, for the first time in its history, an all-female executive committee. The 2018 executive consists of: Co-Chairs Nic Batten and Gaby Bolton; Vice Chair Candice Day; Secretary Jessica Wong; and Treasurer Imogen Hines.
“When we formed the committee at the end of last year, we were heartened by the number of young women who had put their hand up to represent rural medicine,” said Ms. Batten said.
“We hope it’s an example of the way more women from rural areas, and in medicine, are taking on leadership positions.”
Australian rural women have diverse medical needs, yet also face some specific health challenges. In particular, the rates of alcohol misuse and domestic violence are higher in rural areas than in urban Australia.
This has a further impact on the mental health of women in rural communities. Rural women also have higher rates of chronic disease and cardiovascular risk factors.
Ms. Hines said she had learnt at the recent National Women’s Health Summit how these issues were having an impact on rural GPs.
“Rural GPs need more support, otherwise they are at risk of higher rates of burnout from dealing with such difficult issues,” said Ms. Hines.
The AMSA Rural Health Committee recognises the specific difficulties faced by rural women and advocates for greater rural health training options and better support for rural doctors.
“Australian rural women are a resilient, diverse and inspiring group that due to circumstance need a unique approach to health care,” said Ms. Bolton.
“Our committee hopes its leadership on these issues will help improve the options available to future rural junior doctors and trainees.”