Fellowship Pathway Stories

My fears of only seeing coughs and colds were replaced with the management and fine tuning of complex comorbidities and can say that my time as a GP registrar is incredibly intellectually stimulating.

 

Dr Kane Treble
RACGP – Rural Pathway Registrar

I ended up in General Practice by mistake, but it turned out to be the best mistake of my life. After spending several years in the ACEM training program I was tired of never waking my son up or being able to put him to bed. I decided to take a year off and spend some time working in General Practice at the same clinic my wife was working at – she always seemed so happy and the practice were more than accommodating to walk me through the paperwork to get me started.

I had intended to only spend 12 months there, but quickly found the work to be the most rewarding experience I had ever had in medicine. Rather than patching together patients for admission or discharge, I was able to improve their health and actively prevent presentations to ED in the first place.

Working in the country, many acute presentations such as lacerations and fractures are still managed in the general practice setting and I quickly found my time as a GP registrar just as exciting and twice as rewarding as when I was in the nearby ED.

My fears of only seeing coughs and colds were replaced with the management and fine tuning of complex comorbidities and can say that my time as a GP registrar is incredibly intellectually stimulating. Working in the country, I also have the privilege of a wide variety of cases to manage and coordinate simply because the access to subspecialties is more restricted – but have found my medical peers incredibly supportive and always happy to answer calls from a country GP seeking support.

Likewise, my clinic were only too happy to guide me through the subsequent RACGP applications and foster my education as I move towards fellowship – plus, I get to wake my son every morning, and put him to bed every night!

Given the breadth of General Practice there are opportunities to explore your own interests – given my interests in critical care and preventative medicine I’ve even found myself as the coordinator for the regional Respiratory Assessment Clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic and also work as a COVID Project Management Officer at our hospital.

Even if you only do it for one year, time spent working in a rural setting will let you find out what kind of doctor you can be and set you up for the rest of your life. Give it a go!

I can’t think of any other training program or career that allows for this amount of variety and individualisation.

Dr Chris Pring 
ACRRM – Rural Generalist Registrar

It wasn’t until the final year of my medical degree that I knew I wanted to become a rural GP. I had always been set on living and working in the country but had not been able to decide which specialty to train in.

Every time I started a new placement I would fall in love with that area of medicine and begin contemplating it as a career. The problem I had was that towards the end of each placement I would begin to grow restless and miss all the other aspects of medicine not covered by that specialty.

Frustrated by this, I decided to get out of the city and spend my six-week elective rotation in Omeo, which is a small town nestled in the middle of the Victorian Alps. The town clinic and hospital are run by a roster of dedicated locum GPs who spend weeks at a time being the only doctor within a few hours drive in any direction.
I was amazed at the knowledge and versatility held by each of these doctors, who might spend the morning managing antenatal care and chronic disease, and then spend the afternoon dealing with a farm accident resulting in a flail chest and urgent air retrieval. There seemed to be no aspect of medicine that wouldn’t be covered during the course of a regular day.

I was also taken aback by how grateful the community was for this care and how welcoming they were towards me – a lowly medical student. In the short time I was there I became quite proficient at barefoot bowls and Thursday night drinks at the local pub soon became a ritual. I also heard far more stories from patients about wild dogs and missing hikers than I had ever hoped to! By the end of my rotation I was genuinely upset to be leaving but for the first time knew that rural generalism was the career choice for me.

Since then I have spent time working in several towns in North East Victoria and have been able to mould my training through ACRRM in order to develop the skills and experiences needed to become a competent and adaptable rural GP.

I have completed an AST in anaesthetics and have also been able to explore my passion for medical education by being the Registrar Medical Educator for my regional training organisation MCCC GP Training. This enables me to spend my week jumping between clinic sessions, hospital ward rounds, anaesthetic lists, on-call shifts and running teaching sessions via online videoconferencing (thanks COVID-19!). I can’t think of any other training program or career that allows for this amount of variety and individualisation and for this reason I would strongly encourage all junior doctors to consider specialty training with ACRRM.

I think that’s the most amazing things about general practice – that even as registrar you can really focus on the parts of general practice that interest you the most and then the possibilities are endless for once you’ve Fellowed to go forward and really dig deep into the things that you’re most interested in.

Dr Alyssa Vass
RACGP – Academic Registrar and General Pathway Fellow

I came to general practice quite late in my medical career and chose general practice mainly because of my interest in Indigenous Health. I’ve spent a lot of time living and working in the Northern Territory and actually doing a lot of non-clinical work as well as working at some of the hospitals up there.

I joined an Aboriginal Community Organisation and had the privilege of being able to go out to remote communities for quite extended periods of time over the few years I was there; I got to learn an Aboriginal language, Djamparrpuyŋu, from North East Arnhem Land and work with the communities out there developing health education resources in traditional languages which was just a remarkable experience of deeply learning culture, learning language – really understanding the challenges that Aboriginal people face when they are trying to engage with a health system that is often quite foreign to them because it is so different to traditional ways of understanding health and well-being.

That experience really taught me so much and really challenged me to think about ways that I could improve the way that I was delivering healthcare for Aboriginal people and I really felt that general practice was an opportunity to do that because general practice has such a focus on patient centeredness and holistic care and also delivering care in a community context which is essential for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families.

[GP Training] has been great, I’ve been able to do my training with MCCC; they provide opportunity to do Aboriginal Health placements, which I’ve done this year at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service. [The placement] has been a really rewarding, challenging, exciting opportunity to just learn so much that has not only helped me with my practice for Aboriginal patients but I’ve also learned a lot of skills that will keep me in good stead for any patients that I see in general practice.

I’ve also been lucky enough to combine my Aboriginal Health clinical placement with an academic post doing some research into Indigenous Health and Indigenous Health education, so I think that’s the most amazing things about general practice – that even as registrar you can really focus on the parts of general practice that interest you the most and then the possibilities are endless for once you’ve Fellowed to go forward and really dig deep into the things that you’re most interested in.

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