My First Rural Health Conference

My First Rural Health Conference

My First Rural Health Conference

Alexandra Ferrara

I attended my first rural health conference in my second year of medical school and I am incredibly grateful that I did. This was the 2022 WONCA World Rural Health Conference held in Limerick, Ireland. I played a role in organizing the conference, an opportunity provided to me by my school and my role as a Rural Seeds Ambassador. Although I had been involved in the planning, I was hesitant to attend the conference in person as I was in the midst of my medical training and did not personally know anyone else attending. Nevertheless, I made the decision to attend and had an incredible experience.

Each day was filled with delightful conversation with individuals from all over the world in various stages of their careers, including medical students like myself. This experience not only significantly expanded my professional network but also opened doors that ultimately supported my goal of securing a residency position in Canada. These opportunities included invaluable experiences in research, clinical electives, and mentorship.

At the conference, I attended many insightful workshops and presentations which strengthened my passion for rural health. At my very first workshop, I remember feeling a sense of comfort as I was surrounded by people with similar passions and experiences in rural health. We were all looking for innovative solutions to the inequities faced by rural communities. Being from a rural town, it is easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond. However, at this conference, I felt as though I was part of a very large community working towards the same goals.

My own experience at the rural health conference not only broadened my horizons but also made my dedication to advocating for rural communities stronger. It is my goal to attend rural health conferences on an annual basis to reconnect with peers, mentor others, and continue my journey of lifelong learning. My current interest lies in the upcoming Ubuntu conference in Cape Town, South Africa, September 10-13th. It is a fully hybrid conference which provides the opportunity for virtual attendance if you cannot attend in person. I am impressed by the broad range of workshops and presentations that will be held, which can be found on the conference website. I am particularly interested in the workshop ‘Rural Stars Project: Developing a Practical Guide for Rural Health Promotion and Advocacy’ which will be facilitated by my fellow Rural Seeds Ambassadors!

I strongly encourage medical professionals in any stage of their career to attend rural health conferences, even if you find yourself a bit hesitant like I once was. I also encourage you to explore the various bursaries and other opportunities available to students and young doctors looking to learn and gain experience. These professional events offer an invaluable platform to learn, connect, and grow both personally and professionally. By participating in conferences, you can stay updated on the latest advancements in medicine, build a supportive network of peers and mentors, and gain insights that can shape your future practice. Rural health conferences provide a unique opportunity to gain insight into rural health inequities and understand how to advocate for underserved populations.

Whether you're interested in research, clinical practice, or healthcare policy, attending rural health conferences provides an enriching environment where ideas are exchanged, innovations are showcased, and community is at the forefront. Embrace the chance to immerse yourself in these transformative experiences—they have the potential to shape your career trajectory and inspire you to make a meaningful impact in the field of medicine!

Alexandra Ferrara
Family Medicine Resident Physician
Rural Seeds Ambassador
WONCA Rural Working Party Executive Member

The next Rural WONCA Conference takes place in Cape Town, South Africa.
10 - 13 September 2024

More information: