A Flying Start for Cate Ostwald

26 September 2022

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Going Rural has given GROW Rural South West Queensland student, Cate Ostwald, a flying start with her Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Placement!

Cate is a 3rd year nursing student at the University of Queensland. In 2020, Cate successfully applied to be a participant in GROW Rural South West Queensland (SWQ). Along with her fellow GROW Rural cohort she will be graduating from the three-year rural immersion student program in October this year. During their first year on the program, the group visited the communities of St George and Roma and made valuable connections with local health professionals and community members. Due to COVID-19, the 2021 GROW Rural SWQ event was unable to go ahead so an extralong event has been planned for October 2022 which will see the cohort spend four days in Charleville to celebrate their final year on the program including a graduation dinner. 

Being part of GROW Rural led Cate to another Health Workforce Queensland student program, Going Rural, which assisted Cate financially with her two-week placement at the RFDS in Townsville last month. Going Rural offers non-medical students, a rural placement bursary to assist with travel and accommodation expenses in primary health care settings.

Cate believes the biggest barrier experienced when students apply for a rural placement is the loss of their usual income while on placement, as well as maintaining ongoing living costs including rent. Cate said, ‘the placement costs of accommodation, travel, and general living expenses can be very expensive when there is no way of earning money while on placement.' Receiving the Going Rural bursary meant that Cate was able to experience and fully embed herself within the rural placement without financial worry. 

In the lead up to her placement, Cate said she was very excited to undertake a placement at the Townsville RFDS base as it would be an excellent extension to her previous emergency placement at Toowoomba Base Hospital. As the Townsville RFDS base serves as an inter-hospital transfer base, Cate wanted to build on the skills she acquired from her previous placement. ‘Through transporting a range of cardiac, respiratory, neurological, trauma and maternity patients, I hope to increase my ability to perform specialised assessments on these patients, and to deepen my knowledge of interventions like BiPAP and potentially intubation and ventilation.’

Post placement, Cate says if she had to choose one word to describe nursing with the RFDS it would be ‘addictive’. Cate also found it very rewarding to be able to give people living in rural and remote areas the same level of care that they would receive in a metropolitan setting and found patients were genuinely grateful for the care received. Cate said she ‘learnt so much clinically’ during her placement and ‘met some of the most amazing people from all over Queensland’. ‘Despite the challenges students face while undertaking a rural placement, I do believe the challenges are worth it. The teamwork exhibited by rural health practitioners is an exceptional learning environment for students, and I feel so honoured that I was able to be part of it.’

Check out Cate's placement experience in the video below. If you'd like more information on Going Rural bursaries or GROW Rural student immersion programs, click the buttons below.

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