Volunteers who have made a mark on the University of Melbourne’s Rural Clinical School in Shepparton will be celebrated later this month.
Shepparton’s clinical sub-dean Catherine Turnbull and second-year medical students have organised a morning tea to thank people who have volunteered at the school.
Dr Turnbull said there were many valued volunteers across the region who provided a ‘‘real patient’’ engagement experience for the students.
‘‘Having patients that are prepared to give up their time means that students have a bit more time in a more structured environment to learn and to question,’’ Dr Turnbull said.
Goulburn Valley orchardist Ross Turnbull has played an integral role in the learning experience since he started volunteering four years ago.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 13 years ago, Mr Turnbull has helped students understand the implications of the disease across all aspects of his life, encouraging the students to experience the human aspect in what can quite often be a clinical environment.
Each time he is interviewed and monitored by students in a controlled environment.
‘‘When I deal with Parkinson’s, I usually only deal with my neurologist and it’s very clinical,’’ Mr Turnbull said.
‘‘Dealing with the students, they’re interested in my wellbeing and how I’m coping with life, how I cope with Parkinson’s, am I happy, am I sad, what will help me,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a bit of a non-event for me, but what it’s doing for the students is another matter entirely.
‘‘For me, it’s about getting on with life; my view in life is that it starts right now, so I wouldn’t think five minutes a day about Parkinson’s.’’
Volunteers are from all backgrounds, sexes, ages and races, with some experiencing heart murmurs or heart concerns, chronic illness and other health issues.
The experience helps students learn more about certain health conditions and relate to the patients on a human level.
‘‘The clinicians still manage the patients and do the medication, where the teaching is more for students to understand about a disease process, how it affects your life and how it manifests physically,’’ Dr Turnbull said.
‘‘It gives a real human aspect, it’s about engaging with patients and doing what you can to improve their life.’’
The morning tea on March 23 from 10am is to thank volunteers and is a chance for those who might be interested in volunteering to come along. The event is at University of Melbourne’s Department of Rural Health, 49 Graham St, Shepparton. RSVP to Lou Bush on 58234574.