July 11th this year the Rural School branch of the School of Medicine and Health Science (UPNG) was officially launched. The Rural School is incorporated as part of the Kompiam District Hospital in Enga. Sitting down with Dr David Mills later that month he shared how this dream of a medical school based at a rural health facility began 6 or 7 years ago. He had set aside some land and proposed the project to the dean of the School of Medicine and Health Science, UPNG. However, it took some time and after about 4 years of planning then 2 years of construction the rural school was formally opened.
The first group of 8 students arrived in June to complete the remaining components of their final year of medical school. These last two components of their training consist of Maternal and Child Health as well as Rural Health. Their colleagues remain in Port Moresby at the Medical Faculty, Taurama Campus. For these 7 students being situated at Kompiam already fulfils the ‘rural health’ component and the maternal plus child health module will be completed through rural patrols to neighbouring health centres as well as participating in the well-baby and maternal health static clinic at the Kompiam Hospital.
The students were not chosen at random, but each requested to go and were selected from the multiple essay applications. 2024 will see the first group of 5th year medical students who will complete the entirety of their final year of medical training at the rural school. Much like the traditional schooling format the students have access to didactic teaching as well as the classroom experience however this will now be provided via Wi-Fi from the Medical Faculty. They will have the same classes and teaching as their colleagues but instead of urban clinics and PMGH based medicine these students will experience and contribute to the health and wellbeing of the rural population of Kompiam district. They will learn what rural health in Papua New Guinea actually comprises of, and see the strength of will and resourcefulness that is required to provide quality health care to all our people of Papua New Guinea.