I am a rural hospital doctor in the Bay of Islands Hospital. I live up here with my lovely family and enjoy the beaches and outdoor life of the Far North. I have been working fulltime in the hospital for the last two years - for 12 years before that I was a rural GP in various places in New Zealand and Scotland.
I know for me it is the best job I have ever done.
I love the variety, the independence,
the rural people and the way of life.
I was thrilled to receive my Fellowship of the Division of Rural Hospital Medicine (FDRHMNZ). I think the development of this new vocational scope is a huge boost to the rural doctor workforce. Historically we have often been a transient group with no formal training programme and little recognition of our wide variety of skills - I’m a generalist and proud of it! I am optimistic that the development of this vocational group will increase the attractiveness of working in rural hospitals. I know for me it is the best job I have ever done - I love the variety, the independence, the rural people and the way of life.
I am already a vocationally-trained GP. I have valued this Fellowship highly over the years, but now my work has changed direction the dual Fellowship covers all aspects of my speciality better and gives me the freedom to work in both. I am now able to offer supervision to international medical graduates and work independently myself without a collegial relationship. I will also be financially rewarded with payment as a specialist on the ASMS contract.
Over the 19 years since I qualified, I have gathered a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge - it feels good to have that recognised.
Currently I’m working as a GP Registrar in the NZ Army and based at Linton Army Camp for two days a week, Feilding Medical Centre for two days, and one day of seminars in Wellington while on the first year of the GP education programme.
I like the profile that a doctor can enjoy in the community and the role-modelling that comes with being a Maori doctor.
Following my three years with the College I will need to complete a further two years of return service with the army. Following this the options will be open which is a very exciting prospect for me. That’s the beauty of medicine: you can go anywhere and almost do anything.
In terms of being a GP, I like the continuity of care that I get in this role. Serving the community has also always appealed to me. I like the profile that a doctor can enjoy in the community and the role-modelling that comes with being a Maori doctor. I feel very passionate about being known as a Maori doctor so that our Maori rangatahi can be inspired and see that becoming a doctor is very achievable. We need more ‘TKs from Shortland Street’ in Aotearoa and when this happens hey Maori health as a whole can only benefit.
I am one of those new generation doctors, Generation Y according to Wikipedia. The ones they talk about at conferences when they labour over workforce planning and how the government can attract junior doctors to generalist roles in rural areas.
During the past few years, the RNZCGP has fostered two pilot programmes that have captured my attention. Luckily, I’ve been able to join a pioneering group of colleagues to test the waters as the College develops new ways of training and accrediting rural generalists.
This pilot scheme meets the Primex requirements of GPEP1 and allows me to cross-credit the experience in the ever-flexible RHM programme. I love efficiency!
The College has hit the nail on the head in getting this training off the ground. I was enticed with an email that included this description: ‘The purpose of the programme is to foster GP specialist skills whilst retaining the hospital skills that have been practised for years.’ This pilot scheme meets the Primex requirements of GPEP1 and allows me to cross-credit the experience in the ever-flexible RHM programme. I love efficiency!
The two dominating highlights of the GP/RHM pilot are the lifestyle of the West Coast and the unpredictability of the clinical presentation. Whether it is the injured farmer being flown in from up country or the octogenarian who needs advocacy and support for rest home placement, in this Registrar post I am seeing it all and learning how to manage it in the context of a rural setting.
So, what more can I say? Blending GP and rural hospital medicine opens up the best of both worlds.