Dr Caitlin Frede started her GP training as a composite pathway registrar in the Hunter, Manning and Central Coast subregion. After undertaking a term in Tamworth, and enjoying the work and lifestyle, she transferred to the New England/Northwest subregion.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m 26 this year. I’m from Sydney originally, I did medical school at Western Sydney. And then I did intern and residency at Gosford and Wyong hospitals on the Central Coast. While I was there, I decided to do GP, I was pretty keen to do something that would give me a bit of flexibility in case I ever wanted to do some like voluntary work overseas, like missionary work. And that’s why I angled for rural as well, I thought it would help me get better skills.
I don’t really have the city slicker personality, even though I grew up there. I was keen to see more of the world. And then I sat for GP training at the end of internship, in the late round offer because I hadn’t quite made up my mind. It just so happened I got composite between New England/Northwest and Hunter, Manning and Central Coast but still rural pathway.
I didn’t really feel confident necessarily studying GP, the day after I finished residency. I teed up to do my extended skills term first at Tamworth Base Hospital Emergency Department. I just wanted to get to know the area before I moved in as a GP. I worked in the ED for six months. And that’s what sealed the deal for me wanting to stay in the region – living here was so great, and I met lots of great people. I met my boyfriend, it’s also part of the reason why I transferred into the region.
All the ED guys gave me recommendations for practices – Barton Lane Practice where I am now and a couple of the other practices in town as well. When the time came, I just applied, and I’ve been at Barton Lane for six months now.
What made you choose general practice?
GP gives you a breadth of practice, you can be a bit of a generalist, be a bit of a doctor of all trades.
I’m a people person, I like to interact with patients rather than sit at a desk and do notes. I thought it’d be good to also get to know people over a long stretch of time – treat people when they’re pregnant and treat their babies. And this just fits my personality so much more than just working in the hospital. ED was fun. But it couldn’t do it for more than six months.
Why did you then choose the Australian general practice training program as your pathway to becoming a GP?
People who were like mentors, three or four years above me, had gone through AGPT and had good things to say.
What have you been most enjoying about your GP training so far?
Well, obviously, it’s been a bit of a weird year, with COVID. I don’t think that it’s probably been typical, a lot of it’s been telehealth and quite hard. I won’t be too rosy, it has been hard. But parts that I have enjoyed have been getting to meet and be part of a team, that’s really nice if I’m struggling, I can just pop-in and ask, “can you look at this skin lesion with me?”. The practice team aspect is great.
I like the work of general practice. I love the patients. They’re just so eager to have someone come and be their rural doctor. They’re always like, are you passing through? Are you going to stay? They just really want a young GP because we’ve had a couple of older ones retire in our practice. They really want someone young to see them through their life.
I like the training and I like the flexibility of GP as well. The lack of shiftwork is quite great. I can play water polo three times a week, and I love that.
What are your long-term career plans?
I think my career plans are still up in the air. But I wouldn’t ever go back to a metropolitan area, I want to stay rural, and then like, maybe go on some like short, short trips. Here and there doing a bit of aid work as needed, but I probably wouldn’t want to do years overseas, which is formally what I had wanted to do.
What do you like about New England/Northwest, and Tamworth, in particular?
Tamworth feels like home to me now. I love the people, I’ve made some really good friends, I’ve settled into a church here. I had not played water polo in my life, and now I play it three times a week. Who knew it was such a big sport in Tamworth?
Tamworth is near to little towns that you can go on small trips. Recently my boyfriend and I went to the Warrumbungles for a long weekend.
The downside is my family live in Sydney, but it’s still a winner having a big regional airport here, so I fly down and see them when I want to.
To learn more about GP training in New England/Northwest visit our webpage.