Life as a GP in Western NSW may not have been what Dr Caroline Ivey had envisaged in her future, but she loves living near Wellington and working as a GP in an Aboriginal community controlled health service where she is completing her Extended Skills term in Aboriginal Health.
Tell us about your background.
As a junior doctor from England, I never imagined I would end up as a GP in rural Australia!
I had never heard of Dubbo or Wellington until I came to Dubbo from England during a year’s working holiday in Australia. My first position in Australia was as the surgical resident at Dubbo Base Hospital on secondment from RPA. I quickly fell in love with the people, lifestyle and landscape of the Central West and also met my future husband, a physio from Wellington working at Dubbo Base.
Why did you decide to become a GP?
I was quite surprised to find myself being a general practitioner because it was not on my list of careers that I would have considered when I was going through medical school. But after doing several years in hospitals in Sydney and Dubbo I had the opportunity to try general practice in the Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service through the Rural Doctors Network and really found that I just loved it. From there I started GP training.
What do you like about working in Aboriginal health?
I really enjoy being part of a community and being able to help the local community in all aspects of their health not just their actual medical problems, but their social problems and mental health issues. I also enjoy that I’m part of a team. At the health service we have a fantastic team. There’s always somebody that I can call upon to help me manage any clinical or social issue that might arise with one of my patients.
The health service offers a very holistic patient-centred care model which is a fantastic thing to be part of. We also get to see some very interesting medicine, some quite remarkable pathology in Aboriginal health which you might not always get to see in mainstream general practice. I feel like I can make a big difference to somebody’s wellbeing.
Aboriginal health can be quite challenging and not as simple and straightforward as mainstream general practice but don’t let that put you off it is really rewarding and very interesting. I would definitely recommend Aboriginal health training, particularly to registrars in their later stages of training.
What do you like about living in Wellington?
I love Wellington because it’s a very friendly community to be part of. There’s lots to do, there’s always an activity on. It’s a great lifestyle, you can have a fantastic quality of life out here, you can live in town or you can live in the country and nothing’s too far away from anything else. We’ve got Dubbo on our doorstep and we’ve got the regional airport to fly various places.
If you do choose to train in a rural town make sure that you make the most of all the opportunities that come your way, because that’s how you’ll really feel part of the community.