Previously based in Sydney, Dr Hugh Stump is living and training in Orange at an Aboriginal community controlled health service. He believes the benefits of being a rural GP registrar outweigh those of being in the city, whether it’s scope of practice or lifestyle.
Why did you decide to become a GP?
General practice is moving more and more towards preventative health care, which I feel has the potential to have one of the biggest impact on someone’s overall wellbeing. The idea that you can intervene early and have great discussions with patients about how they can make lifestyle changes that will positively impact their health is something that I love.
On a personal level, you can develop some amazing relationships with patients over a long period of time, and really delve deep into often unmet health needs. As a rural GP you can also develop a great scope of practice, which appeals to someone who cannot decide which specialty they love most!
How did you come to be in GP training in Western NSW?
I grew up on a property near Walgett in Western NSW so I felt like I was drawn into the bush.
I was based in Sydney for my intern and residency years, however after having a child, my wife and I decided the long commute times and hectic life of Sydney wasn’t right for us.
Why did you decide to train in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS)?
I chose to work at an Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) to gather some further experience in Indigenous health and gain greater confidence in managing complex chronic health conditions.
What do you enjoy about training in an ACCHS?
By far the best thing is the patients. Often as a registrar you are picking up patients that are disconnected from the health services, and if you show an interest in assisting them, they are incredibly appreciative. I also love the complexity of the medicine, and how that pushes you to broaden your scope of practice to help provide a better service.
How does training in an ACCHS differ from non-ACCHS general practices?
Often the ACCHS are run more like a government organisation, which means more set hours, certain pay entitlements and less after-hours work. To help reduce the barriers to health care, there are often in-house specialist and allied health services which can be very convenient.
As the name suggests, there will also be a higher number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients that have a disproportionately higher rate of chronic illnesses which will be reflected in the nature of the consults, as opposed to seeing more acute illnesses (not to say these don’t present).
Why do you think training in an ACCHS is important?
Working in an ACCHS opens your eyes to the barriers faced by many of the patients in accessing health care. To develop this understanding can only be a positive for any GP in training. BEACH data also suggests that many GP registrars see less chronic health conditions than their fellowed counterparts, and training in an AMS is one way to bridge that.
Would you recommend working in an ACCHS to other registrars? Why?
Absolutely. If you feel you are up to the challenge then it is a very rewarding experience
What you like best about training in Western NSW?
With the general shortage of specialist in regional areas, I feel that my scope of practice has always been pushed. My supervisors have also been very encouraging and passionate about providing good quality healthcare in a somewhat low resource setting. Although this can be daunting and times, I also find it incredibly rewarding.
What do you like most about living in Orange?
Everything in Orange is a four-minute drive away, which I absolutely love! The other thing is that there are lots of young people moving to Orange, so I generally find people incredibly warm, friendly and willing to engage.
Another thing worth a mention is that Orange is a bit of a foodie hub so there are lots of really great restaurants and cafes.
Do you have any tips for registrars moving from the city for rural GP training?
I think moving away from your support networks in the big cities is really challenging, but I think the benefits of living rural far outweigh any downside. I guess my biggest piece of advice would be to get involved in the community whether that’s sporting clubs, social events or getting involved in programs that your general practice is running.
The more that you can immerse yourself in the community the more you will feel connected. Building those support networks is always the key to making the most out of a town.