Why did you decide to become a rural GP?
I grew up in Sydney and at uni I met lots of country kids as tutor, went to lots of country parties, and developed an awareness that there is life outside of Sydney and lots of things that are really worthwhile. I moved to the ACT for work, and did a rural stream year as a medical student and that convinced me that not only is the practice interesting, as I knew it would be, but that the lifestyle suits me; so ever since then, I have had that goal – to live work in rural, regional area.
As a rural GP is the medicine different?
Definitely – you have to be more of a generalist. You can’t rely on other people’s opinions as readily as there aren’t as many people to refer to specialist wise.
I think it’s much better for GP to train in the country – there is a broader range of patients, more experienced supervisors, much broader range of procedural work, and more interesting scope of work.
Is that challenging, not having as much access to specialists as you might in major city? Not really, as long as you know what you are getting into, if you came to the country not knowing that then it would be overwhelming, but that’s what I like about the job, that you are required to think outside the square, and work with fewer resources and be a bit more innovative and maybe original in your thinking; you can’t just follow a protocol that someone else has done all the time, sometimes you need to do things differently.
Sometimes the image of rural GPs is that they are burnout, work long hours and have to live in one place for a long time. Does that concern you?
Doctors can be too selfless – they can let themselves be run dry. Everyone should be responsible for getting the lifestyle they want. For instance, having a doctor four days a week in small town is better than no doctor at all. It’s important to be clear upfront and don’t let it creep in – set boundaries and stick with them. Ultimately it is more sustainable for community; they realise they might not have a doctor on-call tonight but will have a GP for three to four years.
What has your experience training in Armidale been like?
The local support has been fantastic. The supervisors and staff have been great in recognising my role is an education role – I am there as a learner.
Would you recommend procedural skills training in Armidale?
I would definitely recommend and have done so already.
What has been your experience living in Tamworth and Armidale?
Armidale is a fantastic town, with a University and good secondary schools that attract educated and self-directed people. There is an active orchestra, regular plays and good restaurants, which make it a generally good place to live. Tamworth has got fantastic sporting fields and bit more of that sort of focus. It what you make of it too.