Seniors partner with med school students
Residents at RAAFA are being paired with undergraduate medical students at Curtin Medical School for the first time, as part of a joint initiative between Curtin University and Air Force Memorial Estate.
The Senior Citizens Partnership program sees RAAFA residents' partner with two medical students to give the students insight into residents' lives, the health and wellbeing issues they might face and their experiences with the health care system.
The residents and students are buddied up for the duration of the students' course, which lasts for five years, and sees the students develop long term relationships with their allocated seniors.
Dr Ute Hauck, Senior Lecturer at Curtin Medical School and Academic Lead and Coordinator of the program, says the initiative is aimed at helping the students in their future profession as doctors.
"We decided to implement this program at the time the medical school opened in 2017, as we are really focused on supporting our students to learn about healthy ageing, as well as help them to improve their communication skills with older people," she says.
"Ultimately, we want to produce future medical doctors capable of looking after this demographic well. The program also gives our medical students an appreciation of what life was like for seniors when they were younger, 60, 70, 80 or even 90 plus years ago."
As part of the program, the Curtin students are asked to visit the seniors they have been partnered with at least six times over their first year, with continuing visits (two per year) over the next four years of their medical course, depending on COVID-19 visiting restrictions.
During these catch ups, a range of issues are discussed. Students enquire about social, psychological and environmental factors that have had an impact on the life of the senior, as well as facts contributing to their wellbeing and the person's perceptions of the healthcare system.
"The feedback we've had from the seniors involved in the program is that the students are delightful, and that catching up with them is a real highlight, so the program is proving to be a win-win all round," adds Dr Hauck.
As Curtin Medical School student numbers continue to grow, the University remains keen to recruit more residents to the highly successful program. Any RAAFA residents who might be interested in becoming a senior citizen partner, or who would like any further information on the initiative, can contact Beck Haines, Administrative Officer at Curtin Medical School, on 9266 5773 or via email: CMSPlacements@curtin.edu.au