Feature Articles

COVID-19 as a valuable learning opportunity


Most medical students do not receive much public health exposure during their medical education, either in the form of theoretical teaching or practical placement experiences. At the University of Adelaide, students can elect to undertake a public health elective during winter school in addition to limited lectures with a public health focus, but there was not much opportunity for such placements prior to COVID-19. Following the interruption of clinical placements during the peak of the pandemic in South Australia, a modified academic structure saw the introduction of a twelve-week public health placement at the Department for Health and Wellbeing for final-year medical students. This article reflects on the author’s immersive experience at the Department for Health and Wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and includes a brief description of the department’s services along with how it fits into the broader COVID-19 response. Public health placements can impact medical graduates’ understanding and passion for health and society and their role as health advocates. Both of these are included in the Australian Medical Council’s Graduate Outcomes statement. Public health placements are therefore worthwhile pursuing.

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