What’s influenced your passion for rural health?
One of my friends tragically passed away at the Laura Rodeo in 2015. There isn’t a hospital in Laura and there was no ambulance nearby, so she didn’t get any advanced life support until three hours later when the rescue chopper finally arrived. Unfortunately, this is the reality of rural medicine. I remember how her death shattered the entire community. The situation made me realise there is such a desperate need for doctors in rural areas. I think about Holly a lot. She has definitely made a big impact on me.
So that experience has shaped the pathway in medicine you’re planning on taking?
Yes, definitely. For me, it’s your classic ‘I want to be a rural generalist’. I am not entirely sure what I want my special skills to be in, I'm currently thinking general surgery. I was up in Weipa on placement, and they were saying how when they have a case of appendicitis, they have to send them to Cairns. This is just one example of the benefit of having a rural generalist with skills in surgery.
How did the opportunity to become RHINO President in 2022 come about?
Last year, I was the Townsville medicine representative for RHINO. I got involved in lots of events and helped organise things. I was lucky to be able to work closely with the committee and we formed a really good relationship, so I decided to put my hand up for President. I was grateful and humbled to be selected and I am excited about the opportunity.
Can you reveal some of the plans for Club RHINO in 2022?
We've got big plans for next year already! We’re hoping to get more allied health involved in RHINO. I think this will be a great way for students to get a broader understanding of the healthcare system and to meet people and create new networks. We’re also looking to do more events on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural awareness. We're talking about maybe having a cooking class or a guest speaker night to learn about traditional healing. Of course, we are also planning on hosting our other massively successful events again, such as the RHINO gala ball.
What factors do you think contribute to an interest among students and junior doctors to go rural?
I think that JCU does such a great job of showing how amazing rural medicine is. Events like the RHINO Gala Ball add to that by showing the beauty of rural Queensland and hopefully helps students fall in love with the rural lifestyle as well. I’m probably very biased because I love the outback, but I think once you see how beautiful it is and the type of people you encounter it's hard to say no to.
You’ve had the chance to do a few rural placements so far, what’s been some of your key takeaways?
I learned the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, both in the hospital and in your downtime. If you have a free moment, explore the town you’re in because you may be surprised! Rural communities often have more to offer than what meets the eye. Even if they’re limited in terms of facilities, they often make up for in community spirit!