South East Queensland boasts many great options for gaining experience in a rural practice. Here are six locations that our registrars and GP supervisors recommend you check out.
Dr Neil Gaskell is one of the GP supervisors that trains registrars at Granite Belt Medical Services in Stanthorpe. The practice provides medical services to Stanthorpe’s population of 5,000 people, alongside three other GP clinics and a hospital.
According to Dr Gaskell, registrars have great training options in rural locations.
He says: “Registrars have a wide variety of choice. They can be involved in hospital work, nursing home care, other procedures, or skin excisions.”
Dr Gaskell recommends Stanthorpe’s lifestyle too.
“It’s a very popular place – a tourist destination,” he says. “Lots of wineries. Lots of eating places. A national park close by. Nice cool climate. It’s a great place to be, especially during summer.”
Stanthorpe is in agricultural country, located near the NSW border.
Toowoomba is the regional centre of Darling Downs, and the second largest inland city in Australia after Canberra.
Dr Izak Bakker is a GP supervisor at Westbrook Medical Centre in Crows Nest, which is a 30-minute drive north of Toowoomba. Registrars help the practice make up for workforce shortages in the area. But, the benefits are two-way.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for them to learn a lot and to get exposure to a very wide variety of patients, from paediatrics to geriatrics,” says Dr Bakker.
Dr Bakker agrees that rural practice is a great place to learn about medicine.
“There’s a wide variety of patients with multiple chronic diseases, complex patients, and easy paediatric immunisations. I think you can really learn hands on,” Dr Bakker says.
He also points out that the distance from Toowoomba means they do more procedural work than city doctors. There are also opportunities for registrars to focus on specialised skills, with Dr Bakker’s current two registrars pursuing special interests in diabetes and skin cancer.
Medical educator: Dr Philip Stark
Town profile: Toowoomba
Sitting in a hilly forested area north of Kingaroy in the South Burnett region, Murgon is not far from Lake Barambah. It has a population of just 2,000 people and a strong Indigenous presence.
Dr Erica Siang Ying studied medicine in Adelaide, but chose to train in Queensland. Training in Murgon enabled Dr Ying to see a variety of unique cases, including sclerosis, autoimmune diseases and cancer diagnoses.
“Murgon Family Practice is the only clinic, so it feels like you are really on the go and doing the job for the people there and it’s a very nice town to live in,” she says. “The people are super friendly and very approachable. They treat you like family. And the whole clinic is very close – we are like a big family.”
Easy access to Brisbane and the Gold Coast and outstanding local scenery have made Beaudesert an increasingly popular place to live, especially for those with young families or anyone who enjoys the outdoors.
According to GPTQ medical educator, Dr Michael Rice, registrars who train in Beaudesert can expect to practise ‘everything’.
“It’s a really general, general practice. So I’m looking after newborn babies, doing childhood immunisations, a little bit of adolescent health, pregnancy care, and seeing lots of adults with acute and chronic diseases. So we’ve got quite a structured approach in the practice to things like diabetes and ischemic heart disease. We also look after our patients as they age. And that includes taking them through into local age care facilities,” he says.
“Doctors in the practice also work at Beaudesert Hospital. One of our doctors is now a GP obstetrician who works between the hospital and our practice. And our current registrar is doing some work in the hospital emergency as well. I’ve been at the hospital as a GP obstetrician in the past, as has one of my colleagues. We’ve got a really good relationship with the local rural hospital.”
Medical educator: Dr Matthew French
Town profile: Beaudesert
Dr Sam Petersen completed registrar training in Chinchilla, which is a four-hour drive from Brisbane. Dr Petersen is a rural generalist, and is passionate about rural medicine.
“I’m involved with the maternity service. I’m a GP obstetrician. We deliver low-risk pregnancies out in Chinchilla,” he says. “One of the things that we’re currently in the process of developing is our maternity. We delivered 70 babies last year and we’re trying to expand that service.”
“In addition to a GP clinic, I also work in a hospital running the ED, taking care of the in-patients,” he says.
Chinchilla’s population is about 6,600. The rate of employment – both full-time and part-time – for Chinchilla’s residents is very similar to state and national levels. Unlike many country towns, median wages are also similar to the rest of the country. Technical and trade work are the largest employers, followed by labouring jobs. Professionals make up 12.5 percent of the workforce. Oil and gas extraction, education and food services are among the leading industries.
Medical educator: Dr Matt Masel
Town profile: Chinchilla
As a postgraduate doctor, GP Supervisor, Dr Sue Masel was sent to Goondiwindi to practise for 12 months. She fell in love with rural medicine, and has lived in Goondiwindi for the past 16 years.
“I enjoy the sense of community,” Dr Masel says. “I enjoy my practice population. I enjoy the relationships I have with my long-term patients. I enjoy the fact that there’s no commute time to anywhere I want to go and plenty of activities to keep me engaged. And I really like raising my children in a rural community.”
“I think that in most rural towns, there are really good opportunities for primary schooling and often for high schooling. I haven’t had any difficulty schooling my children through primary school in Goondiwindi.”
With its location on a major inland route between Brisbane and Melbourne, Goondiwindi is a popular stopping point for travellers. Being the largest town for more than 100 km, it is the main commercial centre for the region’s agricultural community. The surrounding land grows cotton and grain crops, with beef, pork, lamb and wool also contributing to local farming enterprises.
Medical educator: Dr Matt Masel
Town profile: Goondiwindi