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The health inequalities faced by rural and regional Australians have lit a fire in Dr Emily Moody.

It’s why, when she finished medical school 12 years ago she chose to become a Rural Generalist.

What Emily didn’t count on happening in her first post-Fellowship job was that her own young family would find itself in the thick of a medical crisis that made these inequities personal.

In 2018 , while Emily was based in the north Queensland sugar cane town of Ayr, working both as a private GP and a Senior Medical Officer at the local hospital, her youngest child developed Bronchiolitis.

She and husband Rob rushed the four-month-old to Ayr Hospital where he was cared for by her colleagues, but when his condition worsened dramatically a helicopter retrieval was ordered to transfer him to the regional centre of Townsville, about 90 km away.

While in Intensive Care in Townsville their son suffered a cardiac arrest – traumatic, but thanks to the actions of the staff at The Townsville Hospital, her son survived.

In the following six months, Emily and Rob identified that their children needed specialist paediatric early interventional support for an underlying health condition that was difficult to access from their rural location, and within 18 months had made the decision to relocate to Brisbane, where they could get the essential therapies and care their children needed and surround themselves with a strong network of family support.

Emily says this lived experience became the catalyst for her to view her career as a Rural Generalist through a much broader lens.

She began to explore the range of ways in which she could utilise her training to make a difference and in the space of three years she has made exciting progress.

 

Frontline care

Since July 2019 Emily has been a Senior Medical Officer at Laidley Hospital, which services the town of Laidley in the Lockyer Valley, located just under an hour’s drive west of Brisbane.

She commutes from her home base in Brisbane to cover four shifts at the hospital each fortnight, providing  emergency and inpatient care to the community.

Emily describes the role as ‘made for her’—saying she relishes in the opportunity to deliver front-line care in a Rural Generalist capacity so close to her city home.

“When I am at the hospital I am the only doctor working. It is busy and challenging and very much clinically fulfilling,” she explains.

“I cut my teeth on cradle to grave medicine while I was training in Kingaroy and then working in Ayr, so this is comfortable for me and a place where I know I am making a valuable contribution to the local community,” she adds.

“We are caring for an undifferentiated, unreferred patient population and I am able to utilise the broad range of skills I’ve gathered throughout my training, including my Advanced Skills Training in Anaesthetics.”

 

Clinical leadership

Emily’s role at Laidley Hospital has provided a gateway for her to become involved in clinical leadership, a realm where she can contribute to improving the organisational processes and individual care practices of regional health services.

From mid-2020 to December 2021 she acted in and shared the role of Acting Clinical Director West Moreton Rural Health Services, providing professional leadership for Laidley, Gatton, Boonah, and Esk hospitals.

Since September 2021 Emily has been Co-Chair of the Queensland Health Queensland Rural and Remote Clinical Network.

This appointment sees her consulting with health networks and policy makers on a range of issues impacting on doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, and patients.

“In this role I get to provide leadership and clinical expertise with respect to rural and remote health services, as well as provide advice to Hospital and Health Services (HHS) and Queensland Health (QH) on clinical quality and the safety implications of policy, planning and funding decisions,” she explains.

 

Healthcare systems improvement

To continue building her knowledge of healthcare systems planning and ultimately advance her ability to create innovative service and access solutions, in March this year Emily embarked on studies for a Healthcare Improvement Fellowship.

This Queensland Health Fellowship program, which is now training its fourth cohort, was developed to create future leaders in healthcare from all corners of the sector.

Emily is one of several doctors in the current cohort, which includes allied health workers, Indigenous health workers and nurses.

“I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of such a valuable program,” Emily says.

“It is taking frontline clinicians like myself and giving us the language of policy and planning so that we can bring our layers of insight from the daily work we do to the table and contribute to new and more effective ways of doing things.”

Alongside this, Emily has completed her study for an Associate Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators.

 

Medical education

As if Emily doesn’t already have enough strings to her bow, she is also an active contributor to medical education, helping to train tomorrows Rural Generalists and rural GPs.

This aspect of her career began when she was working in Ayr and she accepted a role with Queensland Rural Medical Education (now Rural Medical Education Australia) helping GP Registrars to prepare for their college exams.

The experience unlocked a passion for education she says will now always be an aspect of her work.

“I love going on the training journey with registrars and I see it as an indirect way of continuing to enhance care for patients,” she explains.

“My overarching goal is to help rural and remote patients and this is a tangible way of doing that: helping the next generation of GPs be the best they can be.”

Emily has been a Lead Medical Educator with ACRRM and was part of the team who developed the college’s Independent Pathway Education Program, launched in 2019.

The pathway allows specific ACRRM registrars—often international medical graduates— greater flexibility to negotiate their own training placements and manage their learning experiences.

Currently Emily is continuing her work with ACRRM as a Lead Medical Educator, providing support to a small cohort of these Independent Pathway registrars, and is also a member of the ACRRM Education and Training Committee

 

Balance and baking

Life is certainly busy for Emily and she has big plans for the future, but she says she couldn’t do any of it without the grounding of her home life with supportive husband Rob, an occupational therapist, and their two now thriving boys.

“I think if I wasn’t working in a field I am so passionate about I would be overworked and overwhelmed,” she explains.

“But we make the juggle work,” she says.

“Rob works a consistent three days a week, which offsets my changing shifts at Laidley Hospital and on the days I am at home I love being with the boys and baking with my thermomix.”

“With us being in Brisbane both boys have come ahead in leaps and bounds and as a unit we make things work. Life is good.”

 

Emily is a dual RACGP and ACRRM Rural Generalism Fellowship holder.

 

The second AGPT intake for 2023 opens soon. If you’re interested in applying during this intake, visit RACGP or ACRRM to find out more.

You can also contact us at applicant.enquiries@gptq.qld.edu.au or 07 3552 8100 with any questions.

 

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