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Dr Michael Rice

Meet Dr Michael Rice, a GP at Beaudesert Medical Centre and current President of the Rural Doctors Association Queensland (RDAQ)

Dr Michael Rice (featured image)

“You get out of a rural community what you put into it,” says Dr Michael Rice, a GP at Beaudesert Medical Centre and current President of the Rural Doctors Association Queensland (RDAQ).

“People get to know you. Patients become your friends; friends become your patients. Living and working in the same rural community, you develop an identity.”

Gaining an early respect for general practice

Michael commenced his journey to becoming a GP by undertaking family medicine program rotations as a student based at the Mater in Brisbane. “That first rotation really changed my perception of what general practice, and particularly country general practice, could be all about,” he says.

On moving to Beaudesert, Michael says he was amazed at the scope of work and type of people who came to see him. “I really enjoyed working with primary producers, with farmers. They are people with their hands in the dirt, and not in other people’s pockets. They are well grounded and sensible. There’s no bullshit about country people, except for the real stuff that they sometimes leave on your floor!”

Satisfying continuity of care as a rural doctor

Michael undertook a fourth year as a medical registrar before being offered a place as an anchor for branch surgery at the Beaudesert practice. “I completed my GP training, was offered a permanent position with the practice in the area, and I am still here more than 20 years on.”

According to Michael, working as a GP in a rural practice gives him the opportunity to tackle everything. “I enjoy seeing multi-generational families. I enjoy seeing babies grow up. Some I’ve vaccinated have come back with babies of their own.”

Satisfying continuity of care as a rural doctor

Michael undertook a fourth year as a medical registrar before being offered a place as an anchor for branch surgery at the Beaudesert practice. “I completed my GP training, was offered a permanent position with the practice in the area, and I am still here more than 20 years on.”

According to Michael, working as a GP in a rural practice gives him the opportunity to tackle everything. “I enjoy seeing multi-generational families. I enjoy seeing babies grow up. Some I’ve vaccinated have come back with babies of their own.”

Gaining an early respect for general practice

Michael commenced his journey to becoming a GP by undertaking family medicine program rotations as a student based at the Mater in Brisbane. “That first rotation really changed my perception of what general practice, and particularly country general practice, could be all about,” he says.

On moving to Beaudesert, Michael says he was amazed at the scope of work and type of people who came to see him. “I really enjoyed working with primary producers, with farmers. They are people with their hands in the dirt, and not in other people’s pockets. They are well grounded and sensible. There’s no bullshit about country people, except for the real stuff that they sometimes leave on your floor!”

In a country community, your patients are also your friends

Michael also enjoys the country lifestyle and everything that rural living offers. “It’s good to live in a community where people get to know you. People look after each other and look out for each other,” he says. “Patients become your friends; friends become your patients. Living and working in the same rural community, you develop an identity.”

“My involvement in the community has not just been as a doctor and employer, and not just as an advocate for the restoration of health services in our local hospital,” adds Michael. “I’ve been involved in a variety of local clubs: cycling, photography and astronomy. I was in the Junior Chamber of Commerce and with the Scout Association as a Venturer Scout leader. My wife has similarly participated in many of these things. We have sound friendships and relationships in the community. That’s made living here interesting, exciting and rewarding.”

As expected, Michael recommends that registrars choose the Rural Pathway. “You don’t have to follow a rural pathway for your entire career, but it’s a great place to spend a good part of your career, particularly at the beginning,” he says. “You’ll learn a lot; your eyes will be opened. You’ll have a great time.”

A staunch advocate for rural medicine

Something that challenges registrars in the rural setting, says Michael, is that the patients often don’t want to go to a major metro centre. “They do expect you to sort it out here and now,” he says. Michael teaches registrars that they can learn the skills to do that and not refer every difficult case to someone else.

Michael is a strong advocate for rural medicine and rural doctors, having been a member of the RDAQ almost since its inception, and now its current president. “The RDAQ advocates and represents on behalf of its members – chiefly rural doctors. We also promote good health for rural communities,” he says. The RDAQ was crucial in reinstating maternity and procedural services in Michael’s town and is one of the reasons, he says, that the organisation is so important. “It’s finding sensible ways of doing things that deliver results.”