Bright Future for Rural Medicine

Bright Future for Rural Medicine

Congratulations to this year’s winners of the CQRH Scholarship for Rural Health: Jane Surman, Imogen Storey, Alexander Belonogoff, Jacob Firth, and Samuel Romagnolo.

The CQRH Scholarship for Rural Health began in 2016 and to date the organisation has invested over $30,000 toward undergraduate students that are studying a degree in a health related area. The selection panel were impressed by the calibre of the applicants this year and are confident that the future of rural health is in good hands. Applicants outlined their vision for rural health, their passion for their profession and articulated their career aspirations. In the case of all five of the successful applicants, their passion for rural and remote medicine shone through in their applications and gave the board a renewed sense of optimism.


Jane Surman

Jane Surman

Jane is in her third year of study for a Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Hons) at the University of Queensland. She is passionate about physiotherapy, and particularly passionate about working with the elderly.

“I have a particular passion for the elderly population who are often disregarded and their difficulties overlooked as a part of ageing. Of course there is a natural decline in the body with age, but with strength, balance and aerobic exercise their quality of life can be enhanced and prolonged well beyond the limits of ‘old age’. I cannot wait to be able to improve the quality of my patients’ lives and hopefully encourage them to live a long, active life.”

Jane’s ultimate dream is to open a specialty elderly clinic in Central Queensland.

“I would love to increase the confidence in my patients for them to be able to continue the activities they loved doing when they were a bit younger. I know with my own Grandma, she would never go to the town gym or pool through sheer fear and embarrassment. This is why I would them to have their own exercise areas that they feel safe and comfortable in to increase their treatment compliance and get them involved in their own rehabilitation.”

Congratulations Jane, we hope to see your dreams come true.


Imogen Storey

Imogen Storey

Imogen is in her fourth year of study for a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Queensland. She certainly got us thinking about exercise in a new light with her passionate description of how it can benefit patients.

“Exercise prescription can help those with chronic pain, clients awaiting or post surgery, cancer patients, people with mental illnesses, people with cardiac and metabolic conditions and the list goes on… Exercise is the new medicine. Exercise is for everyone.”

Imogen also plans on improving rural health services in Central Queensland by providing outreach services which include both community and home visits.

“When meeting in a communal space (eg. Town Hall or Park) and running a group class, I am able to reach a larger percentage of the community and create a social event to strengthen town spirit. Additionally, by initiating home visits, I would be able to not only keep clients accountable (other than routine check ups over the phone) but would also be able to depict how clients can fit exercise into their daily routine using resources in their own home.”

Well done Imogen, your passion for exercise is inspiring… and even a little motivating!


Alexander Belonogoff

Alexander Belonogoff

Alexander is studying a Bachelor of Medicine/ Bachelor of Surgery at James Cook University and is currently in his third year. He has a strong vision for rural health services: a workforce not in shortage, and he is already working to make it a reality!

“This year I have been tasked with the role of Rural High School Visit Coordinator for [the James Cook University Rural Health Club] RHINO. My goals for my time in this position are to contribute to improving rural health workforce numbers by setting up a rural high school visit structure that will inspire High School Students to embark on a career in health and inspire university students to choose a career in rural health.”

Alexander spoke about his recent four-week placement in Moura before sharing his career goal of becoming a GP.

“I found the variety of presentations during my four-week placement astonishing, from heart attacks to dog bites, broken bones to emphysema and late-night brawls to pregnancy emergencies just to name a few examples. My career goal is to practice in a similar setting to Moura as this is the medicine that excites me, the medicine that I grew up with and the medicine attracted me to the profession in the first place.”

Alexander also shared his plans to complete further training in either obstetrics and gynaecology or sports and exercise medicine.

Excellent work Alexander, you were an impressive applicant and we look forward to following your career.


Jacob Firth

Jacob Firth

Jacob is completing a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and is currently in his second year at the University of Queensland. He wants to see rural health services align closely with those offered by our cities.

“I envisage leaders in health sciences working directly and in collaborative partnerships, applying the best cutting edge technologies to provide residents with first-class health care…. I see rural researchers pushing forward technologies that benefit those in rural and remote areas of Queensland. I want to be an active contributor to the improvement of rural health services in Queensland and encourage like-minded colleagues to take the challenge and do the same.”

Jacob is passionate about rural medicine and is looking towards his future.

“After a year at university, I have witnessed first-hand the many, different rewarding career options medicine has to offer including general practice, specialisation, and research. All these options excite me. Perhaps most appealing and challenging is to return to rural Queensland to practice as a rural generalist. I am eager to assist in the provision of excellent services in remote, rural Queensland.”

We know you will succeed in whatever you do, Jacob. Congratulations.


Samuel Romagnolo

Samuel in Kalkarindji next to monument marking the site of the handing back of Gurindji land.

Samuel is in his second year of study for a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery at James Cook University. He has been inspired by a recent placement in remote Northern Territory.

“I was selected to undertake my placement in the remote Aboriginal community of Kalkarindji in the central Northern Territory desert. It was a truly surreal experience, being placed in such a location, and seeing the effects that the social determinants of health have on the population was staggering. Witnessing the poor health and living conditions in the community has inspired me to one day work in such a community and attempt to close the gap – something that will drive me through my studies.”

Samuel’s career goal is to be a rural generalist… and a good one!

“I have only recently learned of the rural generalist pathway and was instantly attracted to it, the reason being is that I desire a higher level of training in a position that will best equip me to serve the community that I will eventually find myself working in. I have taken a particular interest in Indigenous health conditions since the beginning of my degree, and I wish to further this interest by integrating my knowledge into future practice… I will strive to become a personable and compassionate doctor, and aspire to one day have excellent rapport with my patients.”

Congratulations Samuel, you clearly understand what it takes to succeed in rural medicine.


Congratulations again to all five applicants and best wishes for the future. We are happy to invest in rural and remote medicine through you and we know that you will do great things.