Undertaking much of her GP training in Cowra, Dr Teena Downton is now working there as a rural generalist with advanced skills in obstetrics and gynaecology. She is passionate about rural healthcare and ensuring that rural patients access high quality and safe care close to home.
Why did you decide to become a rural generalist?
I felt that a rural generalist career would be one that would always be interesting and rewarding since every week, and even day, could potentially be very different. I am passionate about small rural hospitals maintaining their services so that rural patients can access high quality and safe care close to home. Being a rural GP with advanced procedural skills and an interest in doing some hospital medicine would allow me to help keep rural hospitals open.
How did you come to be practising in Cowra?
I completed my junior doctor training in Tamworth before moving to Orange for my Obstetrics Advanced Skills Training year. Cowra was one of the smaller hospitals that referred high risk patients to Orange so I had discussions with some of their local GP obstetricians on the phone when they were seeking advice from my Orange team, and had met a couple of those GP obstetricians at rural doctor conferences. All my experiences were positive and they were happy to be mentors and supervisors for me, so going to Cowra became an easy choice.
How do you use your obstetrics and gynaecology skills in your everyday practice?
I currently participate in a 1:4 on call GP obstetrics roster in Cowra which means that I attend any presentations to the Cowra Hospital maternity in my week on call. I see pregnant patients who are due for their doctor antenatal check-ups in my weeks on call, manage any births that occur during those weeks, and perform Caesarean sections.
It is great having advanced skills in obstetrics as a rural GP, as it means that I can provide a high level of care for patients in Cowra who see me for a range of women’s health issues such as cervical screening, family planning and the perimenopause.
What do you like best about being a GP obstetrician?
I love the ultimate continuity of care that comes with being a GP obstetrician. I am fortunate to be involved with patients and families right from the time a pregnancy is planned, to looking after them during a pregnancy, to providing intrapartum care, to seeing the children grow up.
Pregnancy and birth are amazing and wonderful things. To support and share in this experience with women and their families is one of the best reasons to get out of bed after-hours and overnight when on call.
Would you have any recommendations for doctors thinking about becoming a rural GP/rural generalist?
Seek out a hospital terms during your junior doctor training that will give you a broad and general range of experiences and skills. Go visit and experience what it is like to live and work in a rural community. Chat to rural GP and rural generalist registrars. Attend the NSW Rural Doctors’ Network/Rural Doctors Association of NSW’s Annual Rural GPs conferences which can be a great place to meet others in the profession and realise the range of rural career possibilities on offer. Look into your state/territory Rural Generalist Training Program.
If you’re interested in procedural/rural generalist training you can find more information here.