For Dr Pradeesha Hettiarachchi, the chance to make a difference and give back to the North Queensland community is one of the biggest drivers of his career.
“Settling down in a regional community and offering specialist services is a huge thing. You can really have an impact and make a huge difference. Hopefully one day I will be able to do that.”
The Mackay-based Obstetrics and Gynaecology registrar fell in love with North Queensland while completing his medical degree through James Cook University in Townsville and Cairns.
Through his many rural and remote placements with JCU, including outreach clinics on Thursday Island, Bamaga, Weipa and Aurukun, Dr Hettiarachchi has seen first-hand the difference providing specialty services can make.
“I kind of got a global aspect of what North Queensland is all about. Going to rural communities and seeing what they are like really opens your eyes. Seeing what doctors do with limited resources there shows you how lucky we are.”
Since starting his degree at JCU, Dr Hettiarachchi has loved working in North Queensland.
It was his desire to return to North Queensland that saw Dr Hettiarachchi take up a provincial registrar position based in Mackay for three years. He hasn’t looked back.
“Coming to Mackay as a junior registrar is fantastic. When it comes to training, the experience is definitely here. I meet my supervisors every day, and they’re always around helping and guiding us,” Dr Hettiarachchi says.
“When you work in the bigger cities there are lots of other registrars competing for experience, competing for operative time. There are fewer registrars at the Mackay Base Hospital; you have more chances to operate and to show your independence.
“It’s great having consultants who live close by who are happy to help at the drop of a hat. It can be a bit daunting to call in your consultant in a big city hospital, but here in Mackay they are more like colleagues.
“They’re probably the most supportive consultants I’ve met in all the hospitals I’ve ever worked in.”