Medical Student Training
Moranbah Medical has a long and proud association with James Cook University (JCU) School of Medicine and Dentistry and each year up to 20 students are hosted by the Private Practice and Moranbah Hospital.
First, second, fourth and sixth year students visit throughout the year and are placed in the Hospital, Private Practice and community depending on their required learning outcomes. Overall teaching responsibilities are spread across the GP workforce and students will spend time with all the doctors at Moranbah Medical.
The relationship between JCU and Moranbah Medical has been built up over many years and is part of a long term strategy to support the training of more GPs eager to take up the challenge of rural and remote work in country Queensland. The fruits of our partnership with JCU are evident in the 2 JCU graduates, Dr Girgenti and Dr Chapman who chose to join the Moranbah medical workforce as GP Registrars.
Both Dr Girgenti and Dr Chapman visited Moranbah during their 6th year placements and elected to return to complete the requirements of their GP training.
Background to Moranbah
Moranbah is a thriving town located approximately 2 hour’s drive South West from Mackay. The health service infrastructure serves approximately 8 000 permanent residents working predominantly within the mining and support industries, but also in the rural based farm and grazing sector. Moranbah also services a large transient population residing in several mine work camps as far afield as Coppabella and Nebo. The area was settled in the 1850s by some famous Queensland pastoralists, including Andrew Scott who called his cattle station Moranbah, and the Archer family who moved into the Peak Downs area. The actual town was founded in 1971 after the discovery of rich coal deposits in the area. Moranbah emerged specifically to service the Goonyella and Peak Downs Mines. Both are large open-cut (above ground) operations. Goonyella lies 24 km north of the town and Peak Downs is 38 km to the south. Both are spectacular operations. At Goonyella the open-cut reaches a depth of 110 metres and a huge 12-m bucketwheel excavator cuts into the coal seam while 170-tonne trucks transport the coal to the waiting railway trucks. At Peak Downs five 97- m long draglines remove 46 cubic metres of overburden each drag. The mine produces 5 million tonnes of coking coal a year. The coal is railed to the sea at Hay Point near Mackay (the loading facilities can be seen to the south of Mackay). The railway was constructed in 1972. There are currently 20 coal mines within a 100km radius of the town with further development expected.
Transport in and out of town is mostly by car and bus, and the small, bustling airport sees daily flights to and from Brisbane servicing largely the travel needs of the mining sector. The railway line serves mainly as a mode of cattle and goods transport. There is a daily bus service via Moranbah to Mackay and to Clermont and Emerald. There is a local taxi service and an efficient courier / road transport network.
Facilities for students
Students are housed in a very comfortable, well appointed communal 4 bedroom home on the Moranbah Hospital campus. The house, fully furnished and supplied by Queensland Health, is situated within walking distance of Moranbah Hospital, so students are nearby enough to participate in on-call and other Hospital based activities.
While visiting students are encouraged to participate in the active CPD learning program championed by Moranbah Medical. In addition students are included in the Practice’s weekly educational Friday lunchtime sessions which are held at the Surgery. Other events are scheduled locally from time to time and students are always very welcome to attend.
Moranbah has excellent facilities for anyone interested in sport and exercise – well trodden walking tracks line the streets and the public swimming pool is open all year round. The Moranbah Boxing and Sporting Association runs a popular gym where exercise classes offered include aerobics and spinning.
The town boasts a Community Radio station, 96.9 ROCKFM and the library complex in the Council Offices in the Town Square is available for computer access and information on local events. The Town Square also hosts a monthly market on the last Sunday of the month which is well worth a visit. There are many social sporting groups, and you are more than welcome to join a team for the duration of your stay.
The Coles supermarket opposite the Surgery is open till 2100hrs on week nights and fast food options are plentiful with Red Rooster, KFC, Domino’s Pizza and Subway. There are a number of restaurants to choose from including Italian at the Golf Club, Chinese, The Workers Club, The Isaac Bistro and the Black Nugget. The town boasts excellent shopping facilities given its size which include popular mens and ladies clothing boutiques, sports shop, computer shop and several chain stores including Target Country and Retravision.
Things to do while you’re here
- Arrange a mine tour during your stay. This experience proves to be the highlight for many students visiting Moranbah.
- A trip to neighboring, Clermont is well worth the drive to experience the historical charm of the region as well as the Theresa Creek Dam and camp site with its popular coffee shop.
- Look out for local events such as rodeos, camp drafts, race days and the region’s Show held in May.
- Climb Wolfang Peak, a spectacular rocky outcrop halfway between Moranbah and Clermont.
- Visit Elphinstone Dam in the vicinity of Glendon – a popular waterskiing and family camping destination.
- Check with your mobile phone provider to ensure you have coverage during your stay.
- When driving out to Moranbah during rainy weather, check the RACQ website and local radio stations for flood warnings. Roads can easily be closed due to rising creeks.
- The drive from Mackay to Moranbah takes 2 hours without a rest break. Leave plenty of time as journeys are frequently delayed by road works, wide load transport of heavy mining equipment etc. The trip can be tiring, so prepare to stop and rest along the way.
- There is no fuel stop between Nebo and Moranbah, so be sure to fill up before this last stretch.
Testimonials from past students
Rosh (6th Year)
What was your overall impression of the placement?
The placement in Moranbah was fantastic. As a final year medical student in Moranbah I was solely based at the hospital and was able to see whatever cases came in and aid in the management of inpatients. I could see patients first, perform a full history and examination, get the ball rolling with investigations and initial management before discussing the case with the on-call doctor. It really was 'deep end' hands on learning.
What was your impression of the accommodation?
In my rural travels as a medical student to Gove (NT), Longreach, Mt. Isa and Darwin, I have not been accommodated in such excellent facilities as those afforded to me in Moranbah. The student house is massive, very modern, fully furnished and has everything needed to live very comfortably whilst on placement. Most importantly, it is only a 90 second walk to the hospital and very close to all local amenities!
What was your impression of the town?
Moranbah was much bigger than I thought it would be and has everything you need to get by. It is a very active town and I was able to play hockey and touch footy weekly while I was there. The nightlife isn't fantastic for young people but you make your own fun. It was handy only being 2 hours away from Mackay and 3 hours from Airlie Beach.
Everyone we worked with were very welcoming and helpful. Coming from a medium sized base hospital, we could not believe how friendly everyone at the hospital was! The highlight of my 8 week Moranbah experience was having the opportunity to meet and get to know such lovely and genuine people.
The placement in Moranbah was absolutely amazing! Hope to be back again in 6th year. [Prad (4th year)]
I have really enjoyed my placement in Moranbah. Everyone has been so accommodating and welcoming. The hands-on involvement from a medical point of view has been great – and the social aspect was also really good. [Julie (4th Year)]
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