OPINION | Why I’d advise other medical students to bring their skills to Orange

RIGHT CHOICES: Dr Shenoa Holliday.

RIGHT CHOICES: Dr Shenoa Holliday.

THE scarcity of doctors in rural Australia has been given much attention in recent times, and while it’s a legitimate problem, there seems to be little focus given to positive stories of rural GPs who love their rural communities.

When I first commenced medical school in 2004, I never envisaged becoming a rural doctor. Born and raised in Sydney before moving to Newcastle for medical school, working or studying in a regional town had not really crossed my mind.

It seems however that life truly is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, and my first taste of country living while as a medical intern proved so rewarding that I’ve been hooked ever since. 

Working in Orange one afternoon, I recall we were transporting a heavily pregnant woman who had complications to Sydney by ambulance, when it became clear the baby wasn’t waiting any longer. We had no choice but to pull off the road and into the closest rural hospital, then work alongside the team there to ensure a safe delivery.

The exhilarating experience highlighted the often-limited resources in rural and regional medical practices, which require troubleshooting, teamwork and quick thinking from all staff.

For a former city kid, the slower way of life, peaceful surrounds and friendliness of the community are hard to overlook and certainly not taken for granted.

Quite often, rural GPs are the frontline of a wide variety of medicine – helping deliver babies, diagnose depression or anxiety, treat snakebites and care for the elderly. While this carries a deep level of responsibility, it is also an absolute privilege.

I consider myself lucky to be trusted and respected from those within a rural community to treat entire generations of family members.

And that brings me to my next point. To speak of the countless professional benefits that training to be a rural GP provides would be to overlook the fundamental reason I chose this career path – and why I encourage other young doctors to consider following in my footsteps.

You can’t talk about rural medicine without mentioning life in a rural town. For a former city kid, the slower way of life, peaceful surrounds and friendliness of the community are hard to overlook and certainly not taken for granted.

Whether it be in Dubbo or Orange which offer all the conveniences of a metro city minus the traffic, the magnificent coast of Gosford, or the musical experiences of Tamworth, I’ve been privileged to experience myriad benefits while training to be a rural GP in several towns across NSW. 

To these towns, and others around the state that welcome medical residents like me, thank you for enriching our time spent in your community.

And to junior doctors who may be reading this – if you’re after adventure, friendship, and thrilling learning opportunities then consider applying to a rural GP training program, such as those offered statewide by the Health Education and Training Institute.

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