Mental health high on agenda for medical student conference

Doug Hendrie

10/07/2019 2:42:22 PM

Medical student mental health is a key focus for the largest student-run conference in the southern hemisphere.

academic workshop
Academic workshops are among the draw-cards for this year's AMSA conference

More than 800 medical students from 22 medical schools have descended on Hobart for the 2019 Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA) conference.
The conference has attracted high profile speakers and presenters such as Professor Steve Robson, who last year went public with his story of almost ending his own life as an intern.
Dr Sally Cockburn, better known as Dr Feelgood, also tackled mental health amongst medical students.
AMSA President Jessica Yang told newsGP that mental health and wellbeing of medical students was her organisation’s top national priority this year.
‘We’re really starting with our members and showing them that mental health in the medical space is being talked about by advocates who are very high up,’ she said.
‘There have been major strides in advocacy around mental health, with a national framework being developed to tackle mental health issues in medical students and doctors. So there is headway being made, but it’s important to bring it back down to the students who are here [at the conference].’
Tasmanian Governor and Emeritus Professor Kate Warner AC opened the conference on Monday with a keynote calling for a greater focus on intimate partner violence (IPV) in medical training.
‘A lack of respect for women, a failure to regard them as equals, can lead to violence,’ Professor Warner told the audience.
‘A review of IPV education in Australian medical schools in 2015 found that, while many delivered some form of intimate partner and family violence education, it was very limited, and only two offered a comprehensive curriculum using an integrated, advocacy-based approach,’ she said.
Ms Yang said the Governor’s speech identified a clear gap in medical education.
‘Her speech was really inspiring and an important message from someone in her position. This is a vulnerable population that medical students interact with, and teaching around how to ask or interact with people [affected by IPV] isn’t consistent across universities.’
‘Anecdotally, medical students feel ill-equipped by their formal medical education to address IPV,’ Ms Yang said.
‘Australia’s future doctors want to be equipped with the skills to support patients impacted by IPV.’
Other speakers include former Federal Greens leader Dr Bob Brown, world-renowned neuroscientist Professor Alan-Mackay Sim, influential LGBTIQ rights activist Rodney Croome, and founding director of the Fred Hollows Foundation, Gabi Hollows.
‘[The conference] is an invaluable opportunity for learning, upskilling and interstate networking on a massive level,’ Ms Yang said.
‘The whole event is about letting students learn from inspiring speakers and think outside the box when it comes to medicine.’
‘This has only been made possible by our team of at least 100 volunteers.’
AMSA represents more than 17,000 medical students around Australia. 

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