Dr Justin Carter is training as a rural generalist, having completed his advanced skills in paediatrics he has found the knowledge he gained is invaluable in general practice and is applied everyday with every paediatric patient that he sees.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Lennox Head when it was a little sleepy town. My mum still runs our family business in Ballina which was started by her grandfather and has been at its current premises for over 100 years!
I completed all my schooling in the Northern Rivers before moving away for university before family (wife and 4 kids) moved back to Lennox 5 years ago to enjoy the lifestyle that living on the North Coast allows.
Why did you decide to become a GP?
I had a previous career in radiography/sonography and when I was planning on pursing medicine I was always interested in becoming a GP.
The variety of your day is what drew me in to general practice i.e. paediatrics to geriatrics (and everything in between). But what I enjoy the most about being a rural GP is the unique relationships you form with your patient’s, the trust they put in you and how you often meet the whole family from the ongoing continuity of care you provide.
What do you like most about community-based GP training?
Everything! It’s a great learning environment.
There is a real sense of community and having that follow up with patients and getting to know them and help them with the challenges they face with their health is what I most enjoy about community based GP training.
This was evident with the recent devastating floods that affected the Northern Rivers. Every GP practice was closed, the local hospital was evacuated, the base hospital was cut off by flood waters but everyday GPs and health staff turned up at the numerous evacuation centres to help cater for the health needs of these vulnerable people during this unprecedented natural disaster.
Why did you decide to complete an ARST in paediatrics?
Paediatrics is a big part of general practice and an area I enjoy. Doing my ARST at Lismore Base significantly broadened my skills in all aspects of child and adolescent health and further confirmed my passion for this aspect of medicine.
Under the guidance of the consultant paediatricians at Lismore Base I became competent and confident in this area and I would recommend this placement to any aspiring rural generalist who would like to further enhance their skills in paediatrics.
How do you apply the knowledge gained in your role as a GP?
After having worked in acute paediatrics for 12 months this knowledge has given me a clear understanding of when a child needs hospital treatment or if it can be managed in the GP setting or outpatient paediatrics.
The base of knowledge I have learnt through my ARST is applied everyday with every paediatric patient that I see and has been invaluable for my career in general practice.
Also having in-depth knowledge of the referral processes for the local general paediatricians and tertiary paediatric centres helps my patients navigate through what can be a complex process and daunting for any parent or care giver with a sick child.
What do you enjoy about living and working in the Ballina area?
Having grown up in the area I know I am a touch biased, but there is no where else I would rather work and live. The laidback lifestyle, the beaches, the nearby rainforests and waterfalls all make it a great place to live and raise a family. From a working perspective the local medical workforce is expanding and specialists are always only a phone call away and from my own experience always very willing to help you out with any questions to related to patient care.
Would you recommend the North Coast to doctors thinking of GP training? Why?
Absolutely! There are many wonderful practices with experienced doctors passionate about rural health and willing to teach the next generation of GPs. It’s a growing area, hence there will always be the need for more general practitioners so long term there is the potential for a long and fulfilling career in general practice on the North Coast.
What are your career plans after fellowship (if you know)?
I can’t see myself leaving the Northern Rivers region. I plan to continue working as a rural generalist primarily based in general practice but still having my fix of acute medicine with shifts at the local base hospital on the paediatric ward and in local emergency departments.
To learn more about rural generalist training head to our webpage.