Dr Dan Wilson

Why I picked rural general practice

By Dr Dan Wilson

I CHOSE a career in rural general practice because I wanted to have a full suite of skills that could serve any Australian (or, for that matter, international) community: first responder, delivering a newborn, counselling chronic disease, delivering bad news, and caring for loved ones at the end of their lives—rural general practice training has it all.

To be honest, the romanticised stories of the rural GP that ‘does it all’ is slowly changing, as doctors begin to find sustainable work-life balances.

First and foremost, a rural GP is a primary care physician, providing longitudinal high-quality comprehensive and preventative healthcare.

Additional skills for rural general practice
Many rural GPs also have additional skill sets, called Advanced Specialised Training (AST) (sometimes called extended skills or advanced skills), that provide additional services commonly through a secondary health service or hospital.

Rural GPs with AST are now called Rural Generalists—a subspecialist rural GP with a suite of additional skills to service their community.

Common AST skills include obstetrics, anaesthetics, emergency medicine, mental health, and paediatrics (but the list does not stop there).

Having additional skills to not only operate independently but to also work better across multiple multidisciplinary teams attracted me to rural general practice.

Love where you live
However, to work in rural and remote Australia, you have also got to enjoy living in those areas.

While rural and remote Australia is far from homogenous, there are some common features, including: tight-knit and supportive communities, limited resources (compared to metropolitan locations), distance from the next town, and resilient patients.

Rural general practice training has been a create-your-own-adventure for me; the possibilities are truly endless.

If you have not had a chance to work in rural or remote Australia, give it a try.
Sometimes, it is frightening to step outside your comfort zones, but if you do, I promise you will come away better for it.

My top ten reasons

  1. While there are many reasons why I love rural general practice, these are my top ten reasons.
  2. Work where and how you want
  3. Increased skills to meet the needs of the community you work
  4. Independence and responsibility
  5. Provide longitudinal care
  6. Cheaper training (compared to other specialities)
  7. Faster training (compared to other specialities)
  8. Make a truly remarkable impact on someone’s life
  9. Attractive remuneration packages
  10. Opportunities for advocacy and leadership
  11. Amazing medical, nursing and allied health colleagues (and conferences!)

About the author
Dr Dan Wilson is a Rural Generalist Registrar completing his Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) Fellowship with Murray City Country Coast (MCCC) GP Training. Dan is a leading voice for change in rural health, holding positions with the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Rural Doctors Association Australia (RDAA) and General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA).

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