Rural Generalist, Procedural Obstetrics, General Practitioner
How did you get to where you are?
After completing high school in a small western town, I graduated 30 years ago from Queensland University and was bonded for five years. I had completed a bachelor of medical science in Papua New Guinea. I worked in Cairns and Mt Isa. After completing a year of obstetrics and a year of anaesthetics, we moved to Mareeba for the ‘five year’ plan. We are still here 26 years later. I established my own general practice and did private obstetrics. After 16 years, I sold to work in Papua New Guinea, as a volunteer for six months. I have been back twice more to teach health professionals at in service training. I have a master of public health, but felt I should go back to study health professional education. I worked briefly for RFDS and was fortunate to be employed as a Senior Medical Officer in Mareeba Hospital a few years ago. I am responsible for the inpatients and with the rest of the team organising education.
What do you like about your role?
It’s very challenging and I learn constantly. I am involved with teaching and receive much energy from interaction with young people. I enjoy the holistic, inter-professional, team based care. I enjoy working with all facets of our community, particularly the underserved. Due to previous back surgery I like the fact that I walk all day and very rarely sit. We have a wonderful, supportive working team in our small hospital, with excellent leadership and importance is placed upon education.
What are the challenges?
It is challenging to cope with a full clinical load, obstetrics, inpatients, daily video conference, supervising and education of students, interns, generalist trainees and medical officers. It’s also demanding studying at JCU and keeping up to date with all aspects of my work. Balancing all this with a family life and exercise is fraught with difficulties.
We have two independent children 22, 24 years, who live away from home in capital cities. I have been married for 28 years, which is rewarding and is always a wonderful work in progress. I enjoy bushwalking, yoga, meditation, reading and singing. We have found it very hard to leave the tropics and my parents followed me here.
What would be some tips for a junior doctor on how to get into a training program?
Have a passion, work very hard, turn up early (not late with a coffee in your hand) and stay the extra minutes to complete tasks. Be responsible for your actions and communicate well. It’s a numbers game, its takes effort, but is well rewarded. Talk to people who have been successful recently in getting into the program and practice your interviews.