Agricultural health and medicine in rural medicine training: Evaluation of “Farm Days”
Introduction: Agricultural industries in Australia provide food, forestry and fibre self- sufficiency, as well as significant exports. They are among the most hazardous industries in Australia, primarily because of socio-economic factors, environmental hazards and limited healthcare access. Other relevant factors are the proximity of families to farming industry hazards and the age of the workforce. Agricultural health and medicine (AHM) is an integralpartoftheexpertiserequiredinruralmedicalpractice.Tothisend,theQueensland Rural Medical Education (QRME) program delivers AHM teaching for rurally-based graduate medical students and rural pathway postgraduate vocational trainees.
Context: Themed rural and agricultural medicine seminars are delivered to all Griffith University medical students, with additional specific AHM teaching and research provided for students choosing the longitudinal rurally-based integrated clerkships during their third and fourth years. For rural pathway primary care vocational trainees, AHM is introduced and taught as a distinct topic in multiple modes, including discussions and instruction at a working farm. Farm visits have been developed and evaluated over a period of 5 years.
Evaluation: Since 2011, 188 registrars and students have attended farms days, with 115 participants completing evaluations. Farm days were generally very well received, with participants reporting that the information provided was relevant and suitably presented, their learning needs were met and the activity was well-timed in the education programs.
Conclusions: Within rural longitudinal integrated clerkships and rural pathways vocational training, it seems appropriate to deliver specific learning opportunities in agricultural health and medicine. The learning approaches described in this paper illustrate one way of addressing these needs and focus on the “farm day” as an exemplar. Exposure to real farming environments and the associated learning was valued by the majority of participants.
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