Maurice Shanahan is in his third year of medicine, part of the Flinders University Doctor of Medicine Rural Stream (MDRS) program where students live, work, develop clinical skills and study in a rural community.
Adelaide born and bred, Maurice studied paramedicine prior to being accepted into medicine at Flinders.
"I have always been interested in healthcare and doing practical things to keep me busy. I really enjoyed paramedicine but found myself wanting to follow through with patients more often. For me, medicine was the natural progression."
Keen to get out of the city and make his own way in medicine, Maurice applied to be part of the MDRS program, was accepted and is loving his year on the south coast at Goolwa.
"The country seemed like a good place to be independent and work on refining the skills I'd collected over the first few years as well as learning plenty of new ones. I much prefer learning by doing and the country is the best place to develop a broad range of clinical skills."
Maurice is based at the Goolwa Medical Clinic, which is the recipient of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners 2021 SA/NT General Practice Clinic of the Year.
"The people here make it the best clinic. There's not a single person working at the practice that sees it as just a job: they all care for the Goolwa community and I have witnessed them go above and beyond time and again.
"The doctors will stay late, fit extra patients in, travel to local nursing homes and perform home visits of their own volition. The nurses know every patient by name and make everyone feel welcome.
"Some patients regularly pop into the treatment room just to say hello to them. The reception staff and managers work tirelessly to support everyone in the practice."
Being part of the community who have welcomed him is something that Maurice really enjoys, especially playing football with the mighty Goolwa Magpies who won their last game of the year by two points. After matches, he often sees some again the following Monday with their injuries.
"Getting to know the local community is so special. It's rare to walk down the street now without bumping into someone I know."
One of the many highlights has been the opportunity to follow obstetric patients from their first antenatal visit to the birth of their baby and then seeing their little ones come in for their first immunisations.
The clinic has been actively running COVID vaccination clinics throughout the year which Maurice has been part of. They have kept an impressive tally, with 3500 fully vaccinated community members to date.
Mentors play a great part in the success of a student's rural experience and Maurice has appreciated the support he has received during his placement.
"Dr Philip Davidson has been my primary clinical supervisor this year and he really helped me get my footing initially in Goolwa. All the doctors at the clinic have been willing to get me involved in things as the year went on, but Dr Davidson showed me the ropes to begin with in those first few months.
"He's also a GP obstetrician and has increased my obstetric and paediatric knowledge exponentially. At South Coast District Hospital where my ED shifts are, Dr Vikram Chellaboina has been instrumental in educating and encouraging students in the area and has really improved all of our emergency skills."
Although Maurice has no firm plans for the area of medicine he would like to practice in, he is convinced that a rural lifestyle will be part of his future.