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Dr Uri Harrington and Dr David Harwood

Home / Case Studies / Dr Uri Harrington and Dr David Harwood

Western NSW

Uri: I grew up on a kibbutz in Israel, I was born in Kalgoorlie and my parents were a bit nomadic, so we moved around a lot. After school I went into the military, I was just a foot soldier for a few years. From there I worked as a deep-sea diver mostly in Southeast Asia and Europe but travelling around the world. It got to the point where I had to get a haircut and get a real job!

I re-did high school and finished a degree in physiotherapy but decided long-term it wasn’t really what I wanted. I got into medicine and then worked part-time as a physio while doing medicine. During my medical degree I went to the Kimberley a couple of times and then to Africa, it was there that I found rural generalist medicine.

I ended up in Western NSW as on a bit of a whim, I wasn’t enjoying working in a big tertiary hospital and that repetitive nature of specialised medicine so took an RMO job in Gosford and I got onto the rural generalist program at the same time. I quite liked the idea of doing my procedural skill in anaesthetics while still working in the hospital and setting myself up for rural GP.

Rural GP is really exciting medicine. You don’t know what you’re going to see next, you can do the procedural work, look after the people with mental health and obstetrics/gynaecology the whole spectrum of medicine, which I really like.

I chose anaesthetics because I like the procedural side of things and you get to know the drugs really well, you can use it outside of anaesthetics, for acute pain management and chronic pain management. You can use the airway skills in the emergency department so for a rural GP it’s very useful and even if you didn’t do anaesthetics itself it’s still a very useful thing to do. It can also be a good stepping-stone into emergency medicine. And I just really enjoyed it.

GP training is a whole other thing. GP is more focused on the skill sets, especially rural GP where you need to have a lot of different skills, you’re essentially learning about everything. It’s actually quite hard and then treating things that you wouldn’t even see in hospital, like acne or oral contraceptive pill, there’s things you’ll come across for the first time – there’s so much to it, it’s very challenging. But the thing is there are a lot of resources out there.

Every day I get people coming in asking me ‘how is Parkes, are you enjoying it here?’, certainly the council here is very, very proactive, they really want to keep registrars here, and I would highly encourage anyone to work out here. The community is lovely, they’re always trying to include you, I’ve had invitations out to farms already. So yeah, it’s been fantastic, it’s a really great community.

David: I’ve now been a rural GP for over 40 years, having worked as a GP with procedural interests in anaesthetics and obstetrics in a few Queensland towns, Norfolk Island and Derby WA. My family have been in Parkes since 1991.

I came from a country town, none of my immediate family had a tertiary training background. I signed up for a medical degree in 1972 with no single factor prompting that choice. It was at a time when all comers were accepted into first year in a competition to fit into the second-year quota. I enjoyed my six-year degree course and university life but was keen to pursue work. I had had an undergraduate scholarship from the Queensland Government that obliged me to undertake a couple of years of rural service. In that time, I was able to start to develop some skills in anaesthetics and obstetrics beyond my rudimentary introduction in my first post-graduate year at the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

I enjoyed the diversity of rural procedural GP work and life and was able to convince my best friend and fellow doctor, Christina Carroll, to marry me and come on a country adventure or two!

Our practice has supervised GP registrars since 2000 and I have been more closely involved as a principal supervisor over the last 10 years or so. I have enjoyed this as it stimulates one to try to keep up to date as well as enabling me to share my mea culpa moments to help registrars to learn from others’ mistakes rather than having to make too many of their own. Registrars are also important in helping to provide services to our rural community in a way that the doctor shortage is somewhat ameliorated by having mentored inexperienced doctors providing services and not doctors who are cast adrift in a strange land with limited support.

Of course, a significant part of this training support is to one day, hopefully, see a team of skilled replacements developed who remain and service our community.

I’ll need someone to keep an eye on me when my care needs rise at a later date too!

 

Check out the town profiles of Parkes and other towns in Western NSW, and if you’d like to know more about rural generalist/procedural GP training head to Procedural/rural generalist training.