Feature Articles

Electives closer to home: pre-hospital and retrieval medicine at MedSTAR, South Australia


The COVID-19 pandemic radically changed the nature of elective placements undertaken over the summer of 2020/2021. With an international travel ban in place, students were forced to cancel overseas placements and look closer to home to find opportunities. This resulted in the discovery of world-class elective experiences within Australia that may have otherwise been overlooked by the allure of international travel. This was the case with the placement I undertook at the Medical State-wide Trauma/Transport Advice and Retrievals (MedSTAR) service in South Australia.


MedSTAR is unique amongst pre-hospital and retrieval units, given the breadth of opportunities available to medical students. Participants have full access to both adult and paediatric cases across all three forms of transport: road, helicopter, and fixed-wing aircraft. The high-acuity nature of the patient population seen by MedSTAR guarantees access to numerous interesting, complex, and unusual cases that are typically not seen by medical students, providing fantastic educational experiences. This article will introduce the subspecialty of pre-hospital and retrieval medicine, detail the work undertaken by MedSTAR in delivering care to critically ill patients across South Australia, and provide an account of the student experience undertaking an elective placement in such a unique environment.

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