Future Focus: Emily Hutchinson

Emily Hutchinson is in her final year of medical studies at Curtin University, Western Australia, and utilised her FutureFocus grant to experience not only one but two electives.

Emily Hutchinson is in her final year of medical studies at Curtin University, Western Australia, and arranged for the first of her two elective placements to be at the Jandakot base with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Emily was on call for emergency retrievals as the team flew to patients in remote and regional areas of Western Australia, covering over 2.646 million kilometres. Read a full account of Emily’s experience below.


Royal Flying Doctor Service

Thanks to the BOQ FutureFocus grant I was able to undertake my final year elective placement with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). My objectives during the course of this elective were to gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of the RFDS and to develop my knowledge of aviation retrieval medicine in assisting with the management of critically unwell patients. I was able to witness first hand, the challenges faced by both the flight team and the coordination centre – it was a unique experience, which I am grateful to have partaken in.

During this elective, I was fortunate to work in multi-professional teams with doctors, flight nurses and pilots, working together to retrieve some of the most unwell patients in rural Western Australia. During my two-week elective with the RFDS, I had the opportunity to accompany the team on at least one flight every day, travelling to locations such as Wiluna, Meekatharra, Jurien Bay, Geraldton, Narrogin and Albany, just to name a few. We were able to transport and assist patients suffering from heart attacks, aortic dissections, upper GI bleeds and sepsis.

Communication is key

I found it particularly interesting to witness how clear and effective the communication was between the flight teams, St John Ambulance volunteers and paramedics, in addition to the staff at the referring and receiving hospitals. This high level of effective communication, not only ensured the safety of the patients, but also the RFDS team.

Treatment on board

I found it fascinating to learn all about aviation medicine and the effects of altitude on the human body, such as blood oxygen saturations and blood gas results. I learnt about the precautions required when transporting patients via plane, such as sea level cabins for patients with penetrating eye injuries or bowel obstructions.

There was a great level of preparation required for each flight in order to pre-empt any complications that may arise during transport, to ensure the patient is safely managed while in the air and confined to the restrictive space of the PC-12 aircraft.


Elective conclusion

It was highly valuable for my future career to experience all aspects of rural care. This elective provided me with the opportunity to participate in the complete circle of care - attending to patients on scene, local hospital care, transport by RFDS to tertiary centres and the continued care patients receive at the hospitals.

The BOQ Specialist FutureFocus grant covered the fee for the elective at RFDS - administration and insurance fees and the cost of running the student elective program. The grant also facilitated the purchase of appropriate attire and covered the costs of petrol to and from the airport each day. I am very grateful to BOQ Specialist for giving me this opportunity. Without the grant, it would not have been feasible to undertake this elective placement with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Further elective experience

With the help of the BOQ Specialist FutureFocus grant, Emily was able to arrange a second elective placement with the Sexual Health Quarters in Northbridge, Perth and the Royal Perth Hospital Sexual Health Clinic. To learn all about her second elective experience here.

Developed exclusively for medical and dental students, each year the BOQ Specialist FutureFocus grants provide students with the opportunity to undertake an elective so that their commitment to helping others can be realised. Applications for our FutureFocus Grant open in May and close in August. 

You can also access funds to help undertake an overseas placement, with our Student Banking Package.


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