Like many countries, Australia’s regional and rural communities are in constant need of good medical help. And with the restrictions on international medical graduates and overseas trained doctors, it’s highly likely you will train and work outside Australia’s cities.
The good news is, rural medicine usually means you can achieve much more in your sphere of influence. You’ll learn more too. If you’re considering practicing in regional Queensland, here are six reasons to do it.
1. You’ll experience a breadth and depth of medicine.
Rural locations can offer you the chance to use all the skills you learnt in your degree. On any given day, you might be treating rhinovirus, administering immunisations, managing chronic illnesses or dealing with an emergency. Maybe you’ll do this in a hospital or general practice setting but you could just as easily do it by the roadside, in a remote clinic or at a mine site.
2. Country life is more relaxed.
Country and city time operate on different clocks. In the outback, things slow down. There are no early morning traffic jams or people too busy to say hello. You have time to chat to Margie from the local grocer when she comes in for a blood pressure check. You probably even have time to pop home for lunch and cuppa with your loved one. Rural doctors say this as one of their favourite reasons for making the move. The lack of ‘time-pressure’ means they can treat their patients on a needs-basis.
3. You care for the community and they care for you.
The bonds you develop with your rural patients will be strong. Many of these communities are under-serviced. They want you there. They are grateful for you being there. You are their safety net. You are their primary care team. Many rural GPs go outback for a few years and never leave for this very reason. By living in the community you serve, the value of your work increases exponentially. You matter.
4. Queensland’s geographic diversity and weather is astounding.
Dreaming of your own acreage? It’s easily a reality if you go rural. Imagine a few acres, some chooks and a vegie garden. Or perhaps you’d prefer the lush rainforest or rugged coastline? Queensland’s got all that and then some. Need we mention the amazing year-round temperate climate?
5. The country lifestyle is well suited to creating a connected family.
If you have a family or want to start one, the benefits of an outback Queensland post are many. Country people are connected: everyone knows everyone, which can bring a sense of well-being and safety. There are usually opportunities for kids to run wild in ample green spaces, quiet cul-de-sacs and fresh air.
In the country, kids play with other kids, adults spend time chatting at the local store. Life isn’t as hectic as in the city. Connections are made face-to-face. It’s common for people to get involved in the community. Activities like joining the local Rotary club, taking kids to the local playgroup or being involved in sport all help to create that connectedness.
Many rural social activities are family-based too.
Generally speaking, country kids have a lot more freedom than their city counterparts. Crime-rates are low, meaning your kids can walk to the local shop without you fearing for their safety.
As with anything in life, there can be some downsides to rural posts. Schooling and work options for partners can be limited. However, many country schools utilise increasingly fast technology to combat their relative isolation. As for work opportunities for your partner, lots of rural GPs say the community word-of-mouth network works wonders. Plus, you may find yourself practising in a rural town with over 10,000 people in the community with more opportunities.
6. You’ll become a well-rounded doctor.
There are challenges to working as a rural GP. Remote locations can sometimes mean limited resources. There’s always the ‘lucky dip’ nature of client presentations. Isolation fears can be another. But if you’re adventurous, you’ll see the silver linings. Being out of your comfort zone helps you to learn quickly… and a lot. You’ll be exposed to a broad range of medicine and have significant autonomy. Advanced technology means you can always phone or Skype your peers for help. Most rural doctors are surprised at how connected they feel when they arrive, too, regardless of the distances to the nearest city. Clinic staff who’ve been there for years are always ready to support the new doctor in town.