The National Centre for Farmer Health are excited to welcome students to our team for placement, research or clinical training.
Students at the National Centre for Farmer Health gain specialised field knowledge on specific aspects of health, wellbeing and safety of farmers.
Hands on training for conducting research in the areas of farm and rural health is a key component of student experience at the centre.
We hope that you can make a difference to farmers’ lives in your careers.
Read about student experiences at the National Centre for Farmer Health
Dr Alison Kennedy
My decision to take on a PhD with the National Centre for Farmer Health followed a very positive experience as a Casual Research Assistant at the Centre. Taking on a PhD—with the encouragement of Centre Director Susan Brumby—allowed me to combine my passion for rural health with my previous academic training in behavioural science and my personal experience of suicide bereavement.
My PhD research ‘Life, death and the experience of suicide and accidental death bereavement for Australia’s rural farming families’ was very well supported by the NCFH. In addition to excellent access to practical resources (including Deakin library, software and office space), the NCFH gave me contact with skilled research staff and a collegial and encouraging atmosphere in which to manage the challenges associated with doctoral research.
I successfully graduated with a PhD in March 2016 and was awarded the University of New England Chancellor’s Research Medal. Successfully achieving this milestone has now lead to full-time employment as a Research Fellow and part of a dynamic research team at the NCFH. I look forward to continuing to develop my research skills, work alongside the rural farming community to improve health, wellbeing and safety and, ultimately, to make a difference to farmers’ lives!
I’m a Biomedical Science graduate and have recently completed my Honours in Health and Medical Science at Deakin University in partnership with The National Centre for Farmer Health and Western District Health Service.
Rising obesity rates in Australia is concerning due to obesity’s association with comorbidities, loss of employments and overall contributing to a greater cost burden. The success of bariatric surgery in achieving and maintaining significant weight loss has led to an increase in demand for the surgery. However, this has resulted in inequalities to emerge between public and private patients accessing the surgery. My Honours project aimed to investigate the differences in public and private patients pre-operative health status and the pre-operative pathways followed. To highlight any disparities between the patient groups and to investigate whether bariatric surgery is reaching those most in need first.
This research would not have been possible without the help and encouragement from the staff at NCFH and WDHS. I’ve learnt a lot this year and am very grateful for all the support I received throughout my time in Hamilton.
I’m a Biomedical Science graduate from Deakin University, currently completing my Honours Degree with the NCFH. Prior to this year, I hadn’t had any experience in hands-on research, especially in a rural environment, but I’ve found everyone at NCFH to be extremely supportive and more than willing to help me out!
My research project, called CROP HARVEST, aims to evaluate farmer attitudes and behaviours in order to prevent exposure to agrichemicals. It provides the opportunity to investigate practices in regards to agrichemical usage and personal protection. Through use of a survey-interview process, I will be able to determine the effectiveness of agrichemical surveillance (monitoring exposure), and the influence this has on behaviour regarding both use of agrichemicals and and personal protective equipment (PPE). I hope CROP HARVEST will provide participants with the knowledge to understand how monitoring their agrichemical exposure has influenced the way they evaluate personal safety and behaviour around agrichemicals, along with attitudes and practices of the population.
Undertaking my honours project at NCFH has equipped me with skills and knowledge that I wouldn’t have gotten in an urban setting. Although moving to Hamilton has been a huge leap, not only have I learnt research skills, but I’ve definitely gained an insight into farming life and a deeper understanding for health, safety and wellbeing issues that affect farmers.
I’m really enjoying my time at NCFH, so far it’s been heaps of fun!
I have completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Deakin University and am currently completing my Bachelor of Health and Medical Science (Honours) in conjunction with Deakin University and the National Centre for Farmer Health.
My project is looking at help seeking for social and emotional wellbeing among young rural adults. This study will identify past help seeking experiences and current help seeking intentions for social and emotional wellbeing among young rural adults. This study will contribute to improved prediction of future help-seeking behaviours in young rural adults and provide community-informed knowledge to assist with the development of appropriate and effective ways to provide acceptable and accessible support for young rural adults. A key element of this research is around improving opportunities for help seeking and making help easier to access. This study will provide recommendations for service delivery, health policy and future research directions.
My time at NCFH has been fantastic, from the team members to the research, every part has been enjoyable!
Dr Nufail Khan
Six weeks of growth, insight, and personal development. A fantastic collegiate atmosphere on a background of a beautiful landscape. These statements only provide a glimpse into one of the best placements that I have had during medical school.
I was fortunate enough to be placed at the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH). The team were incredibly supportive and extremely inclusive. The placement itself provided the ultimate opportunity to garner an understanding of the unique health issues facing rural and regional Australia. Working under Drs Alison Kennedy and Jacquie Cotton and Professor Susan Brumby, I was able to develop a literature review on how mental health is affected by agrichemical (e.g. pesticide) use. This piece is slated for publication which is an unexpected but welcomed outcome. Irrespective, the research has opened my eyes to health concerns that I should be more aware, and accepting of, in my own future practice.
My philosophy is always to make the most of the opportunities presented to you, and as such I immersed myself in the community by attending local events such as meet-up groups, Parkruns, fun runs, agricultural shows, and plenty of exploring (what a beautiful region!). I even used my face as a canvas for health awareness (Movember) during my time here. As much as I took away from this region I tried to give back by sharing my baking (every so often), and sharing the views from my exploration.
If you have never experienced the country life, or your mantra involves exploring, socialising, and learning about yourself, then come out to the NCFH in Hamilton.
Dr Kelly Ruecker
As a final year Deakin Medical Student, I had the opportunity to participate in a six-week selective joint research placement at the National Centre for Farmer Health and Western District Health Services. Here I completed a research project and audit in post-caesarean delivery pain management. I was involved in all aspects of clinical research – data collection, analysis, compiling a report and forming recommendations for the health service. Whilst my project was not strictly farmer health related, I had the opportunity to get involved and draw on the experience of the NCFH team, who welcomed me with open arms.
In addition to research, I also had opportunities to assist with health assessments of farmers throughout Western Victoria through AgriSafe™ clinics as well as hear about the exciting research and programs that the NCFH runs. I was able to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by rural and farming populations and measures utilised by rural health clinicians to improve health, safety and wellbeing in these communities.
I had a fantastic time at NCFH and WDHS! Both teams are incredibly friendly and encouraging. I would highly recommend a selective and/or elective placement at NCFH for anyone remotely interested in research, public health or farmer/rural health!
Dr Affan Guliyara
As a final year Deakin Medical Student, I participated in a six-week selective research placement at the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH). I chose NCFH because it presented a unique opportunity for me to gain some research experience, whilst simultaneously providing exposure to the most vulnerable community amongst rural populations—farmers.
My research work involved data analysis of the agrichemicals used by the farmers in Western Victoria. This was part of an exciting research project called In-field Personalised Cholinesterase Assessment Project (PCAP), which seeks to explore the best way to measure farmers’ exposure to Cholinesterase.
Apart from research, NCFH also gave me the opportunity to attend AgriSafe clinics and Sustainable Farming Families (SFF) workshops, where I was involved in performing comprehensive health assessments on farmers from Western Victoria—and educating them on health and safety—under the supervision of experienced clinicians.
My time at NCFH was wonderful. It provided me with a valuable insight into research as well as factors that affect farmers’ health. The team is very friendly and supportive! The research work is flexible and is tailored based on the student’s prior research experience and the duration of the placement. I highly recommend all final year medical students to consider NCFH for their selective placement. You will love it!
Dr Jess Perry
During my time at the National Centre for Farmers Health I undertook a research placement performing a literature review on the topic of Organophosphate Effect on Farmers. I was supported by the friendly staff at the centre throughout this process. Also I was given the opportunity to have hands on experience with organophosphate testing and health assessment of farmers throughout western Victoria. I found this to be a valuable experience as a 4th year Medical Student as it allowed me to increase my knowledge about this topic, research and farmer’s health.
Nurses are vital to the community. A career in nursing can be challenging, while also rewarding as it involves helping sick individuals become healthy again. Developing our knowledge, skills & experience over time means we can work in many and varied environments. This also allows us to have the opportunity to work flexible hours.
Each nurse’s journey is unique. A caring & empathetic nature is common and nursing soon becomes part of your being.
It is caring for people when they are vulnerable and involves educating individuals to achieve health & wellbeing, empowering them to have control of their personal journey.
I was in the first intake of University trained nurses at Warrnambool Institute of advanced Education which later became Deakin University. I studied for 18 months, qualified as a State Enrolled Nurse – now known as Registered Nurse Division 2. I then deferred and commenced my practical nursing career at Hamilton Base Hospital on Fitzpatrick wing, a surgical ward.
At 21 I travelled to the UK, I enjoyed agency nursing in London and worked as a Nanny out in the country – the families I worked with valued & were comforted with my nursing qualification & knowledge.
Returning to Australia in 1991, I worked as an agency nurse in many hospitals & nursing homes around Melbourne. This grew and embedded my medical & pharmacology knowledge. During this time, I developed sound nursing and communication skills. Here I learnt to work as a team member and adapt quickly to changing environments & circumstances. I soon returned to Deakin University where I completed my Bachelor of Nursing and registered as a Division 1 Nurse. My graduate year was at Wimmera Base Hospital in Horsham. This was a wonderful 12 months with rotations & experience in Surgical, Theatre, A&E and Renal Dialysis.
A country girl, I met and married a country boy. I was welcomed into a family farming business in Northern Victoria but I have always wished to continue nursing; it is part of my being & my identity.
I am a partner in our sheep grazing business and unlike many, we have had a smooth succession to our generation. Whilst I don’t work actively in the business; however, I do work actively on the business. As a nurse we have policies written in relation to health & safety for individuals and various workplace practices & procedure, e.g. If forecast over 38oC then inside between 11-3pm. Wearing PPE when using Chemicals, tools, implements or machinery etc.
When our children were small I had a yearning to work in Community Nursing. An opportunity opened and I was welcomed into District / Domiciliary nursing at our local hospital. I was now developing my knowledge of Community Support Services to clients needing support whilst living at home. In community health, I now work with people from different cultural backgrounds, often with disadvantaged and marginalised people.
In partnership with the local community, I work to prevent illness and promote health across the lifespan by identifying barriers to healthy lifestyles and general wellness. I work with families and communities to empower individuals accessing care to change unhealthy lifestyles and provide post-acute care to people in their homes.
It is important to be able to assume responsibility and a leadership role, take initiative in emergencies, have strong communication skills, work autonomously and as part of a team, maintain patience and discretion when providing health care.
In community health we provide an interpretative bridge between the acute sector and community services. We embrace a social model of health to advocate and give a voice to the community accessing health care. In a system which is often complex and hard to navigate, we as community health nurses are able to simplify the health systems, referral pathways and access to care.
I work in an interdisciplinary team which can include, but is not limited to, mental health nurses, podiatrists, general practitioners, psychologists, women’s health nurses, Aboriginal health workers, allied health and hospital services. As a nurse my skills have also been valued in case management roles with Aged care and disability services…. such a diverse journey a nurse can have.
Nursing, an interest in health and farming life is my being. Not actively working in our agricultural family farming business, I wanted to use my breadth of knowledge and skills built over the last 25 years to educate & empower our farmers about their health.
Then I found the National Centre For Farmer Health (NCFH). Our local community had been suffering a lot of adversity with drought, political water war-fare leading to reduced or no irrigation water allocation, poor commodity prices in some sectors and associated mental health issues to many families. This ripple effect has affected many businesses within our community as they rely on the agricultural sector.
I applied for & completed the unit HMF 701 Agricultural Health & Medicine through Deakin University in partnership with NCFH. Also very fortunate to have a supportive employer, Northern District Community Health who could recognise the need to be able to offer this specific agricultural health service to our community. I studied Agricultural Health & Medicine with the intent to becoming an AgriSafe Clinician in my local area in Northern Victoria. I now feel comforted that I can use my extended nursing knowledge to contribute & support our agricultural and farming sector.
I now look forward to delivering the Primary Prevention and health awareness program to our agricultural community. If health is compromised it can affect your family and business.
By educating our farmers they can improve their health, wellbeing and safety to be able to get the most out of their life and fulfil their farming business’s potential. Health is a person’s number 1 asset.
May my journey continue with my passion for health and farming….
Erin is a visiting graduate student from the University of Iowa in the US. She is originally from Iowa City, IA and graduated high school in 2015. She completed her undergraduate degree from Iowa in May 2019, with majors in Health Promotion and Political Science, and a minor in Global Health Studies. Erin is currently pursuing her Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology and will graduate from the University of Iowa College of Public Health in May 2020.
Erin is involved with the National Centre for Farmer Health through a global health exchange between Deakin University and the University of Iowa. While with NCFH, Erin is working on a program evaluation of the various services NCFH provides with the Victorian Government’s Drought Support Funding. Erin is excited to be working and living in Victoria during her placement, and is looking forward to learning more about Australian farming and culture.
Undertaking my field placement at NCFH has equipped me with the appropriate tools to confidently operate as a social worker within the agricultural setting by broadening my understanding of the farming life, and furthermore to develop an appreciation of the issues of health and the diversity of the impact that implicates farmers.
I completed a 70 day, 500 hour final social work field placement at NCFH. I was able to implement my social work skills through a comprehensive literature review on farmers facing suicide stigma. I was also given the opportunity to create and implement a phone survey to assess what action farmers have taken to improve their health and lifestyle after they attended Health and Lifestyle Assessments conducted by NCFH at various agricultural field day events across the country; the feedback and results have been very positive!!
My time spent with the team at NCFH was extremely enlightening and very enjoyable!
Honours Scholarships available
There are three scholarships available for honours students wishing to complete their honours year with the National Centre for Farmer Health.
Year 4 Semester 2 (HME402) consists of three rotations: a pre-internship, an ambulatory/subacute selective (now simply known as a “Selective”), and an open elective. During the six-week elective rotation, students may undertake a clinical placement in a wide range of health care settings in Australia or overseas. The elective facilitates development of an in-depth understanding of one field of medical practice, and allows students to broaden their experience through exposure to a different clinical or research environment. Click here for more information.
The NCFH provides students with a number of opportunities to participate in research conducted by the team. Areas of interest include:
- Mental Health
- Agrichemical Exposure – Cholinesterase assessment
- Rural Health – Health and Lifestyle Assessment