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Are you unsure about whether rural general practice is the right career choice? Or are you a new rural registrar wondering what to expect from your training experience?

In either case, ACRRM Registrar, Jessica Hockey has plenty of advice on offer. Having completed her Advanced Skills Training in anaesthetics, and currently in her first year of GP training, Jessica lives in rural Warwick. Splitting her time between the local rural hospital and GP clinic, Jessica enjoys the blend of acute and general practice work, and says she definitely never gets bored.

Here she talks about why she chose to go rural, and provides tips for those pondering doing the same.


Why did you choose the Rural Pathway?

All people in all places deserve access to safe, reliable, patient-centred care. The pragmatic realities of Australian geography, population, and resources mean that specialists cannot be present in every community to provide every service.

I fell in love with the idea of rural generalism because, though there will always be a need for the occasional specialist trip, a small team of rural generalists can provide excellent foundational care within patients’ own communities.

From a personal perspective, I can’t speak highly enough of my experiences working and training in rural general practice. Every day is different and varied, and you feel a tangible connection to the value of your work and your role in the community.


What’s been the most challenging thing about your rural training so far?

Adjusting to rapidly shifting roles – from the emergency department, to the ward, to the theatre, to the GP clinic. I’ve definitely never felt bored, but stepping through different jobs in quick succession can be overwhelming sometimes!

Every day feels a bit easier, and having some fantastic senior supporting staff also greatly helps.


What relocation tips do you have?

I relocated with my partner and he was fortunate to get a wonderful job locally. We’ve both had some big exciting changes to get used to together.

It’s also been a bit of a tricky year to move to a new town in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting lockdowns have impacted many social and community events.

The silver lining is that it’s forced us to take it slow and adjust to all the big changes without insanely crowded calendars. It’s also provided opportunities for us to check in with each other, especially as we develop new daily living habits. While those changes are exciting, they can also be tiring, so looking after your own and your family’s wellbeing when relocating is paramount.


Any specific advice about practising in a rural environment?

Be kind and respectful to (and about) people. In a small town, it’s difficult to live dual lives. Your world becomes a kaleidoscope of characters, and keeping social and professional relationships separate is not always easy.

This doesn’t mean you can’t let your hair down and enjoy yourself, but if you treat people respectfully regardless of the setting, I think people are happy to return the favour.


Making that rural GP decision

If you’re yet to make the decision to practise rurally, we hope Jessica’s insights are helpful in firming up your choice. Equally if you’re a new registrar, her specific advice about working in a rural environment hopefully enhances your training experience.

Should you be interested in getting more registrar perspectives about why they chose general practice – along with how they’ve found their training so far – you might like to read our article ‘Why these registrars chose general practice’.