With the acute shortage of doctors in regional and remote areas, the resounding success of GPSN’s key event meant more than ever this year.
From 22-24 July, students at Farm Stay 2022 had the opportunity to experience the variety of practice and generosity of lifestyle that is offered in rural Australia.
Taking place on the Coonawarra Farm Resort in the Gippsland region of Victoria, over 35 GPSN members from five different states participated in clinical case scenarios, heard from experienced rural GPs, enjoyed fun farm activities, and sat around campfires for reflections.
Attendee Pranathi Katneni said it took some awe-inspiring stories from rural veteran Dr Max Higgs and Canadian IMG Dr Katrina White’s wealth of experience to remove her initial scepticism.
“Before attending, I wasn’t really interested in becoming a rural GP. However, after listening to the speakers talk about their journeys and hearing about the amazing opportunities for rural GPs and locums, I’m more open to pursuing this pathway,” she said.
The ability to network and interact with like minded students was a significant part of the getaway’s appeal, said Katneni.
“Meeting delegates from all over Australia, and building a rapport with them in the space of only three days highlights the social aspect of rural medicine,” she said.
“Rural general practice, and medicine as a whole, is a team sport – it relies on understanding and working with your colleagues regardless of how far away they may be. Rural GPs need to work with other doctors and specialists to provide optimal care to their patients where there may not be anyone else to do so.”
MD1 student Anton Lu said the trip had helped him realise the abundance of career prospects outside of the city streets that he has grown up on.
“Farm Stay made the career of a rural GP seem like so much more of a concrete possibility for me. I’ve always heard about rural health professionals and pathways, but as a born and bred Melburnian, it always seemed so distant to me,” he said.
“Hearing Max and Katrina’s stories about life as rural doctors, their journeys around country Australia in locums or remote clinics, the close-knit and vibrant communities, and the unique lifestyle that is afforded in such an occupation means a rural career suddenly doesn’t seem so far-fetched.”
Farm Stay delivered on showcasing the range of benefits that budding young practitioners can enjoy in rural areas, says Anton.
“I think initiatives such as these are great in educating metro-based students such as myself of the allure of a life in the countryside instead!”
Special thanks to Dr Max Higgs, Dr Katrina White, Dr Elizabeth Neilson and Dr Antony Bolton for presenting to the group.
Another thanks to GPSN Working Group Officers Alex Yeoh and Suzannah Roushdy, GPRA’s Vicky Triantaflarios, and sponsors RWAV and RACGP for making the event possible.