Dr Trish Rathie
Meet GPTQ medical educator, Dr Trish Rathie
Dr Trish Rathie grew up in Gayndah, on the Burnett River in Queensland.
“It was a one doctor town. We would wait around five to six hours to see the GP and he would see around 80 patients a day,” says Trish, a GP and medical educator based in Toowoomba. “From the age of eight, I decided that I wanted to be a rural GP.”
Career beginnings in rural Queensland
Trish undertook her initial training and internship at Rockhampton, with country relieving in Emerald, Clermont and Springsure, rural towns in central Queensland. “I moved to Toowoomba as a GP registrar and worked for two years at Toowoomba Hospital in general practice, and later at the Dalby Hospital. I did obstetrics and anaesthetics, and became a GP anaesthetist,” she says. Trish then spent a year in Goondiwindi, a small town on the Queensland border, but moved back to Toowoomba so her husband, a doctor, could pursue anaesthetics as a career. After time spent in Brisbane, Trish and her family moved back to Toowoomba. “We’ve been in Toowoomba now for 11 years,” she says.
“The rural GP is the hardest job you can have within medicine. You have to be a jack of all trades,” says Trish. Along with the challenge of clinical diversity is the constancy of being on call and being in the spotlight. “I think you can have an enormous influence for good within the community,” she says.
The modern GP as jack of all trades
At Goondiwindi, Trish worked as a procedural GP, providing anaesthetic (and obstetric) cover as needed. “We had people having heart attacks, people with head injuries that needed to be flown out. In a rural community, when there’s an accident, you are the doctor on call and you meet the ambulance at the hospital. You don’t get the same degree of emergency work in the city.”
Trish says she likes the continuity of care with general practice. “You develop a relationship with your patients and become a significant person within their and their family’s life.” Because of the ongoing relationship, she says, you journey with the patient. “Just yesterday I saw a brand new baby and then an 85-year-old gentleman and everybody in between. You have variety and diversity in both presentations and ages of patients. So you have to be a good generalist.”
New complexities and challenges in general practice
According to Trish, GPs are managing far more complex medicine today than ever before. “That’s quite challenging. You see pathology at its rawest,” she says. “You also see patients before the diagnosis is made, and often you make the diagnosis and start to coordinate the care.” However, she says it’s nice to know that patients appreciate the care she is giving. “It’s an enormous privilege to be sharing this journey with a patient. The patients have the right to make the wrong decision, but you can make a difference.”
Trish is currently completing a Masters of Clinical Education from Flinders University. “My career is very important. I see myself involved in medical education in five to ten years’ time, both as a GP supervisor and a medical educator,” she says.
GP supervisor and medical educator
Trish was introduced to External Clinical Training (ECT) by Wendy Francis in 2001 and began conducting ECT visits in Brisbane. “When we moved to Toowoomba, I wanted to continue doing that training. I spoke to Graham Emblen, a partner at my practice, and he invited me to become involved in workshops with the registrars. From 2004 I started to present with him. I became the first assistant medical educator,” she says.
Medical education isn’t just about presenting a workshop, says Trish. It’s about mentoring, supporting the registrars and enabling them to overcome their struggles. “I enjoy the whole aspect of medical education, including remediation. I find it a challenge. It’s about assisting the registrar through their training. I see myself getting more into that role,” she says. Trish also enjoys supervisor education and is a GP supervisor. “I think learning actually occurs within the practice, and the workshops build on that, so we need to ensure that the supervisors are the best they can be.”