Ever wondered what a day in the life of a rural GP looks like? Dr Barb Bradshaw shares a typical day from when she was practising as a rural GP in Goondiwindi.
5:45am: I’m up and getting ready. There is an elective cesarean section to do today. I have been able to care for this woman from before this baby was conceived, since I am also her GP. I’m excited about this impending birthday!
7:20am: A beautiful healthy baby boy has been born. The new mum and dad hold their new family member on the other side of the surgical drape with the GP anesthetist present, while my fellow GP Obstetrician and I begin repair of the uterus and layers.
8:10am: I congratulate the mum and dad again after the procedure is finished and chart the analgesia and Clexane. Then it’s off to clinic two blocks over.
9:00am-1:30pm: The GP clinic is full. I have a patient come in with a worrisome case of exacerbation of COPD, and the oxygen saturations are low. I call my colleague at hospital and plan an admission. I celebrate with a patient who has completed the methadone program and is drug free. I have been walking with them through this for a year and a half.
A patient comes in to discuss a new diabetes diagnosis, and we make a plan to manage the chronic condition. The next patient bursts into tears. The drought has gone on too long, and they have to sell off their livestock before the cattle starve. Family and financial problems are closing in. I connect the patient with crisis support programs, but the most important thing I can do is listen. I book them again for next week to check up and make an emergency plan if their feelings become suicidal. Not a simple case to be had this morning. I would love a simple cold to assess sometimes!
1:30pm: WHEW! Lunch break
1:45-2:00pm: Catching up on pathology and reports.
2:00-5:30pm: I have booked one afternoon each month to catch up with my Residential Aged Care patients, and today’s the day. We are very fortunate where I live to have a great facility and caring staff. I love my time I get to work here. Issues from checking a skin wound to worsening dementia and family discussions on end of life planning. I have to call a geriatrician in Toowoomba for some advice, and he is happy to support the GPs in Goondiwindi. Plans are made, visits and friendly hellos are shared. Documentation done before leaving. Sometimes I get to take along a medical student, and I love showing them that aged care is interesting and rewarding work.
5:30pm: Back home. Tomorrow I am going to be the Senior Medical Officer on call at the hospital for a 24hr shift, starting at 8 am. I’ll do some study and have an early night.