Since 2018, Jacqueline has been working with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in Cairns. As a new mother, she wanted to continue doing the work she loved, but also spend quality time with her children. At Jacqueline's home base in Cairns, the RFDS crews provided more than 22,000 patient consultations at GP and Nurse clinics last financial year, and a further 9,200 remote consultation calls were provided through the telehealth service.
“The retrieval teams have a doctor, a nurse, a pilot and an aircraft that's ready to go around the clock for whatever comes up,” Jacqueline says. “That can be anything from a car accident on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere on a station, for example. Or you are going to retrieve a patient who needs to have a hospital admission after they have presented to one of the Cape York clinics.”
The clinic teams, where Jacqueline worked as primary care specialist until early 2022, are organised in a different way than the retrievals. “Our two clinic aircrafts in Cairns have a schedule, and they take us to either day clinics West or South of Cairns or to the overnight clinics in remote locations around Cape York,” Jacqueline says. “We fly up, for example, to Lockhart River on a Tuesday morning. We get dropped off at the community and then we basically do whatever needs to be done at the clinic.”
A busy work week with the Flying Doctors
“We usually have a busy few days there, that is, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then we fly back on a Thursday afternoon,” Jacqueline says. Friday is an office day for the clinic team. “That’s when we do all of our administrative work so that when we're in Lockhart River we have more time to take care of our patients.” To put this into perspective, RFDS Cairns-based teams fly more than 1.2 million kilometres every year.
“Working in the clinic isn’t really like working in a hospital, it’s a more unique clinic run by nursing staff 24/7, with fly-in fly-out staff to support,” Jacqueline says. “We work closely with everybody else that comes up to Lockhart River, as we are part of the primary health team on the ground, working with Queensland Health nurses. We usually have a doctor and a nurse with us, and a mental health clinician as well.”