Dr Mary Beth MacIsaac has relocated from Sydney to Broken Hill where she is continuing to supervise GP registrars. Mary Beth considers GP supervision to be an investment in the future of general practice.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I’m a Canadian trained GP. I grew up on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia and did the Family Medicine Program in rural New Brunswick. I spent the first couple of years of my career working in an Emergency Department in rural New Brunswick, before moving to Australia in 2010. I worked in the Sutherland Shire (South East Sydney) for 10 years prior to starting at the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Broken Hill in August 2020.
Why did you decide to become a GP?
It’s funny because my medical student supervisor actively discouraged me! I was doing a rural family medicine rotation on Cape Breton Island as a medical student and I loved it. I could see the difference a good GP could make to an entire community, and how much people appreciated the services my supervisor and his colleagues provided. But he was extremely overworked and I think he wanted me to choose an easier career path. But it was too late – I was hooked.
What was your motivation in becoming a GP supervisor?
I hadn’t thought about it until the area manager of the corporate I worked for asked me. I didn’t think I knew enough to be able to teach anyone else. But I decided to try anyway – and I’m glad I did. I realised that the process of supervision allowed me to learn more about general practice – so as the registrars learned, I learned too (and sometimes I learned from them).
What do you enjoy most about being a GP supervisor?
Supervision is about being able to reach and help patients you will never see, and registrars that you will never teach. If you support and teach a registrar well, they will in turn be able to provide good medicine to their patients. Some of your registrars will become supervisors themselves, and the cycle continues. It’s an investment in the future of general practice.
After living in Sydney, how do you find working and living in Broken Hill?
It’s definitely a big change. I am enjoying outback life, the landscapes are immense and the night sky is incredible. I thought there would be nothing to do in Broken Hill, but there is so much to do here. There’s an incredible community spirit. I still miss everyone I worked with in Sydney though.
What is the best thing about working at Clive Bishop Medical Centre (Royal Flying Doctor Service)?
There is a real need here – working here you feel that everything you do is valued. I love the huge RFDS team and the ‘we’ll make it work’ attitude, people really pull together here to accomplish what the patient or community needs. And I love that I sometimes get to fly over the gorgeous Australian desert to work in the remote outback communities, the best commute in the world.
Learn more about GP training opportunities in Broken Hill.