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Peter Crothers promotes health outcomes outback

Former pharmacist Peter Crothers is now working with health related student placements throughout the northwestern region of NSW. Photo TWH

Former Bourke pharmacist Peter Crothers has taken on a new role, and while he may not be dispensing medications, he is contributing to the health of the community in an equally important role.

Peter joined the North West Academic Centre in Bourke in November and is responsible for helping to organise and manage work placements for university students in the health disciplines.

The Centre is part of the Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health and works with Australia universities to place students in remote rural workplaces in Bourke, Cobar, Brewarrina, Walgett, Lightning Ridge, Goodooga and Enngonia.

“I want to work on what’s important to the community and what actually works,” Peter said.

“There’s nothing more important than ensuring we have the people and resources to look after our healthcare needs, and we know student placement programs help.

“Even though I’m a pharmacist by training, I’ve always been more interested in broader remote rural healthcare and my mentors and heroes include a range of doctors, nurses and others who’ve made important contributions to rural healthcare.

“The North West Academic Centre deals with the full range of health and medical academic disciplines – medicine, nursing, dentistry, nutrition, occupational therapy, speech pathology, psychology, physiology, social work and many more,” Peter said.

“We’re also helping to open new doors - for example, there’s a push to place students from different healthcare disciplines in the same workplaces so that they learn to work together.

“Multi-disciplinary training has been talked about for decades, and so to be playing a role in helping it happen is exciting,” Peter said.

There are 19 university departments of Rural Health around Australia, funded by the Commonwealth and managed by different universities and in Bourke it operates under the University of Sydney.

“The North West Academic Centre is a small but busy operation, and I’ve arrived after some key people have moved on, COVID disruption, and some loss of momentum, so there’s plenty to do,” Peter said.

“It’s more varied than I thought it would be – I’m involved in most aspects of the placement program, promotional and advocacy work, and a lot of community engagement, especially with the workplaces that host students. […]

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