Having grown up in the country (mainly Far East Gippsland), I couldn’t think of any other place I’d want to live. And contrary to what you may think – especially for those who have done undergraduate clinical placements in tertiary hospitals – you are not ‘throwing away your career’ by opting for some rural postgraduate training. In fact, you might be pleasantly surprised to discover that you may actually have more opportunities and gain increased responsibility, thus acquiring valuable practical experience rather than doing serial subspecialty terms with an excess of paperwork and minimal hands-on experience. Of course, in the words of a favourite GP mentor of mine, it will be whatever you want to make it – proportional to the effort and enthusiasm you bring.
My entirely rural internship and residency (both interstate) enabled me to gain experience and opportunities I certainly would not have had if training entirely in a tertiary centre. After talking with my colleagues who had remained in tertiary centres, I realised that I certainly was far from disadvantaged. From opportunities to improve many practical procedural skills (including lumbar punctures, suturing, joint aspiration, PICC lines, minor skin surgery, and many more), to working under excellent clinical mentors, the breadth of experience was ideal. To have a similar program in our own east Gippsland region, including an appropriate exposure to the broad variety of important medicine that occurs in the community setting, is a commendable and exciting initiative.
Subsequent to my internship and residency, I made the decision to pursue rural general practice for its breadth of practice, opportunity for procedural skills (Level C obstetrics in my case), continuity of care and opportunity to come back home to East Gippsland. I would be delighted to encourage any prospective intern who either is from rural Australia or would like to try out the rural medicine challenge – come and join us for the year!