Shaping students’ clinical practice in addiction medicine

27 Jun 2022

Jacqueline, a final year medicine student at Monash University, reflects on her speciality placement at Turning Point.


I was placed at Turning Point for my six-week specialty placement as a final year medical student. I had a wonderful time at Turning Point. I spent my first three weeks at the Richmond outpatient clinic. Here I learnt about community-based treatments for addiction, most importantly, opioid agonist therapy. I was exposed to different psychotherapy modalities such as motivational interviewing, behaviour change programmes, and joint treatments for trauma and addiction. I observed clinicians conducting comprehensive biopsychosocial assessments for patients first presenting for alcohol and other drug treatment. During my second three weeks I was placed at Wellington House, which is an inpatient detoxification unit attached to Box Hill Hospital. Here I became more familiar with the variety of drugs people use in the community, coming to understand different signs of intoxication, overdose and withdrawal. I learnt how to keep someone safe and manage their symptoms during alcohol and other drug withdrawal, and how to develop a plan for long term rehabilitation. 

I chose to undertake this placement because I have an interest in psychiatry. I already knew a little about addiction medicine, having been exposed to this during a rural placement a few years ago, as well as during my honours research year in hepatitis C elimination. However, I still learnt so much that will forever shape my clinical practice. I am so grateful to all of the patients I met who were happy to share their stories with me. I would recommend this placement to any medical student, regardless of your existing experience or specific interests. Addiction is relevant to every aspect of clinical practice. It is important that we all learn about the backgrounds and ongoing challenges of people with substance use disorders, so we can provide the best possible care to these patients across all specialties.