As head of the Rural Clinical School’s new Griffith campus, Dr Limberger is working to encourage more students to consider a career in the bush.
UNSW Medicine alumnus Dr Damien Limberger has been committed to the education of rural doctors since he joined the second cohort of students to undertake Medicine via the Rural Entry Scheme.
Today, as Executive Medical Director of Griffith Base Hospital and head of the Griffith campus of UNSW’s Rural Clinical School, 35-year-old Dr Limberger is working to encourage more Medicine students to consider careers in the bush.
“Our students get lots of hands on experience, with ward rounds in the hospital every day, a lot of procedural training in theatre, and because we only have six students there’s a really good teacher to student ratio,” he says.
“Most rural doctors are generalists who have to deal with everything that comes through the door, from road traumas to big farming accidents and mental health. They get the full range of surgical and medical exposure.”
Griffith joined Albury-Wodonga, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Wagga Wagga as the fifth campus of UNSW’s Rural Clinical School last year. With a $700,000 investment from the Federal Government, the School purchased a former doctor’s surgery opposite the hospital and upgraded it into a state-of-the-art medical teaching facility.
The funding was also used to purchase a large, Griffith-style house to accommodate all six students. “It has big living areas and nice kitchen – and the neighbours bring them home made salami and olive oil and even put out their rubbish,” Dr Limberger says.
Dr Limberger is now recruiting the second intake of students and plans to expand the program to enable them to undertake their Independent Learning Project at the campus. He would also like to see more specialist training available in the bush.
Born in Wagga Wagga, Dr Limberger studied for three years at UNSW Medicine in Sydney before completing his degree in Wagga Wagga, where he stayed on as an intern and resident. He then undertook general practice surgical training in Griffith and set up a GP obstetrics training post there, and worked as a GP obstetrician for several years.
He now conducts surgery at Griffith Base Hospital, focuses on safety and quality as Executive Medical Director, and also works with the Clinical Excellence Commission. As head of campus, he is involved in guiding a multidisciplinary teaching staff to deliver the curriculum to six full time and three rotating students.
“My rural background makes working here appealing – it’s all about the rural lifestyle, knowing the community and, even in the hospital setting, the sense of teamwork and camaraderie that you don’t get in the big cities,” he says.