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Resources for Medical Students

Get a GP Campaign: Why get a GP?

Following taken from AMSA webpage:

For many medical students the matter of "health" is purely an academic one. We believe ourselves to be young and invincible and tend to overlook the importance of looking after our own health, even though we are learning about everybody else's. When it comes to looking after ourselves, like most things in life, taking the first step is the hardest.

This is why AMSA has launched the Get a GP campaign. The campaign is designed to get us thinking about our own health so we can be well equipped to be looking after the health of others. As well as advocating for all medical students to find their own GP, AMSA’s Get A GP campaign also offers you a list of GPs in your area who are willing to bulk bill medical students.

The Healthy Body Healthy Mind Initiative

Following taken from AMSA webpage:

The issue of medical student wellbeing is one that has gained increased attention in recent times. As part of our response to this important issue, AMSA, in conjunction with MDA National, introduced the Healthy Body Healthy Mind (HBHM) Campaign. This campaign, which complements MDA National's own Live Well Study Well campaign, seeks to raise awareness of the issues affecting medical students and encourage local wellbeing activities.

Part of the HBHM campaign is to encourage medical student groups to run their own wellbeing activities for their members. In 2009, MDA National offered prizes of $2,000 and $1,000 to the student groups with the best wellbeing activities, run in September.

Healthy Body Healthy Mind Tips

The heavy workload imposed by medicine can lead to a variety of personal difficulties. These may manifest as reduced physical activity, inadequate sleep, mental health problems, poor eating habits, substance abuse or financial difficulties.

There are no simple solutions to these issues, but there are a few things that might help to reduce your troubles:

  • Allow time for regular physical activity.
  • Allocate enough time for sleep.
  • Share your feelings with those close to you.
  • See your general practitioner regularly (check out the AMSA Get-A-GP Campaign page for a list of GPs in your area offering Bulk Billing to medical students).
  • Organise your time efficiently and plan ahead.
  • Maintain a good diet. Don't rely on fast food.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol and other drugs.
  • Discuss ways to save more effectively with your bank.
  • See if you are eligible for Centrelink assistance.
  • Check university notice boards for work that fits your studies.

When the Cowpat Hits the Windmill

Following taken from NRHSN webpage:

When the Cowpat Hits the WindmillThe mental health guide When the Cowpat Hits the Windmill was launched by The Honourable Jeff Kenett AC at the NRHSN Forum on Wednesday 7th March 2007.

The Guide is a resource written by students for students focusing on mental health issues faced by Australia's future rural and remote workforce while on placement or working out bush. It was developed by the NRHSN in conjunction with beyondblue: the national depression initiative for medical, nursing and allied health students.

How to order copies of When the Cowpat Hits the Windmill

Copies are available from the NRHSN by email or by calling 03 9860 4700. You can also download a copy of When the Cowpat Hits the Windmill, which was reviewed and updated in October 2008.

Study provides insight into medical student stress and distress

Following taken from AMSA webpage:

The AMSA/NZMSA Medical Student Wellbeing Survey results were published in the Medical Journal of Australia: Painting the picture: Australasian medical student views on wellbeing teaching and support services. Hillis JM, Perry WRG, Carroll EY, Hibble BA, Davies MJ, Yousef J. MJA 2010; 192:188-190

The above article details ways to improve medical student support services and wellbeing teaching, reveals insights into medical student health and wellbeing and reveals that one third of medical students have no General Practitioner.

The study follows multiple overseas studies that have demonstrated medical students experience poorer levels of wellbeing compared to their peers.  President of AMSA Ross Roberts-Thomson said ultimately, a medical course will have its ups and downs and while we cannot stop stress altogether, we can change the approach to stress so that we minimise its impact.

“For one, increasing the number of medical students who have their own GP will go a long way to improving student health and wellbeing; AMSA’s Get a GP campaign, has been designed to assist in this process.

“AMSA’s Get a GP program is intended to prompt students to think about their own health and wellbeing as well as advocating for all medical students to find their own GP.  Tangibly, this initiative offers a list of GPs willing to bulk-bill medical students in their local area,” said Mr Roberts-Thomson.

The study also reveals information about the approach to wellbeing by universities.  It reports that fewer than half of all students felt that support services were adequately promoted and that 44% of students felt that they had not had formal teaching on medical student stress and distress. In addition, it states that 55% of students believed there was a stigma associated with being a medical student undergoing stress and distress.

The study’s lead author, Dr James Hillis, said it is vital that we optimise the approach to wellbeing during medical school, firstly for the medical students, and secondly for when the students become doctors.

“They will continue to experience similar stressors and use similar coping strategies as doctors. It is particularly crucial to break down the stigma, which is a barrier to accessing support,” said Dr Hillis.

AMSA calls on medical schools, and other organisations with an interest in students’ wellbeing, to take note of the results.

Key Survey Findings

  • 55% of students believe there is a stigma associated with experiencing stress and distress
  • 72% believe there is a stigma being diagnosed with a mental health condition
  • 70% have their own general practitioner with only 45% of international students having one
  • 71% know of support services at their university, but only 46% believe they are adequately promoted and only 49% know someone (either themself or someone else) who has used them
  • 55% believe there is sufficient time allocated to wellbeing teaching and 54% believe it is approached in an appropriate way
  • Students want to learn most how to help somebody else cope in a lecture that is part of their course.

The Student and the Junior Doctor in Distress - "Our Duty of Care"

Proceedings of a Conference of the Confederation of Postgraduate Medical Education Councils 19–20 July 2001. MJA 2002; 177 (1 Suppl): S1-S32. Free download at:

Topics covered include:

  • The student and junior doctor in distress: Kay A Wilhelm - Med J Aust 2002; 177 (1 Suppl): S5-S8.
  • Stress in a graduate medical degree: Gisele M L Mouret - Med J Aust 2002; 177 (1 Suppl): S10-S11.
  • Examining stress and responses to stress in medical students and new medical graduates: Michele G Daly and Simon M Willcock - Med J Aust 2002; 177 (1 Suppl): S14-S15.
  • Attitudes to healthcare and self-care among junior medical officers: a preliminary report: Narelle E Shadbolt - Med J Aust 2002; 177 (1 Suppl): S19-S20.
  • The junior doctor in distress: the role of a medical education officer at the systems level: Anne A Martin - Med J Aust 2002; 177 (1 Suppl): S20-S22.
  • The junior doctor in distress: the role of a medical education officer at the individual level: Karen Grace - Med J Aust 2002; 177 (1 Suppl): S22-S24.