Patients and supporters of a unique Launceston Clinical School program were honoured at an event at the school on Tuesday.
The Patient Partner Program connects medical students with patients with chronic illness, who volunteer their time to students to gain practical experience.
The program is hosted by the University of Tasmania Faculty of Health’s School of Medicine, and was established in Launceston in 2005.
Launceston woman Jenny Peebles, a Patient Partner Program volunteer, delivered a powerful speech at the recognition event.
“When life gives you a bad deal, sometimes it is very hard to understand or make sense of what has happened to you,” Mrs Peebles said.
“I think I can safely say that being able to interact with you as students gives not only myself, but the other patients in the program the opportunity to take back a little control over our illnesses by giving us a voice and thus enabling you to learn from us at the same time.”
Mrs Peebles said the program allowed patients the “ability to reclaim a little strength, dignity and enjoyment” and form “unexpected friendships”.
Program director Jenny Barr said patients “enjoy giving back” to the health system that has serviced them through volunteering.
Students are given the opportunity to conduct consultations and learn through taking medical histories, undertake examinations or discuss the management of a condition with volunteer patients through the educational program.