What were some of the practical tasks you got to undertake and observe on placement?
Azeez: We've done things like suturing and injections. I've been at a GP practice and a primary health clinic and in the hospital as well. I’ve seen a range of things, which has been very eye-opening.
Sarah: I did some suturing and biopsies, injections, ECGs, and history taking.
Dennis: The supervisors have really supported our learning. I was encouraged to take physical examinations and patient histories, as well as assist in a minor surgical procedure.
What are your thoughts on Atherton Hospital and health care in a regional setting?
Dennis: It's been a really good experience seeing how things are done. The way doctors approach work here seems to be different, you’ve got to be adaptable to a changing environment and fewer resources.
Sarah: I agree with Dennis. I witnessed a patient who was referred to Cairns Hospital with a possible stroke, and the nurse I was with drove her down there. It demonstrates their adaptability, their willingness to sacrifice their time for their patients and do what needs to be done.
As part of your placement, you’ve gone to some of the GP practices around the Tablelands. What was this experience like and was there anything that stood out to you about the role the GP plays in these communities?
Chloe: For me, the big stand-out was the continuity of care you get in rural areas. Some of the patients have been coming to see the same doctor for decades and they’ve built a strong relationship. It was great seeing the level of trust from patients and getting to be part of these interactions.
Many of our graduates pursue careers in rural generalism and general practice. Is that a pathway you guys are considering?
Dennis: I haven’t set myself on anything yet, I’m just trying to learn as much as I can and get a feel for everything first. I’m certainly interested in pursuing a career in a rural setting, I don’t think I would have applied to JCU if I wasn’t!
Azeez: General practice definitely interests me. It encompasses everything I thought being a doctor was about when I was a child. We lived in a small town of 500 people for two years and my dad was the only GP there. I remember seeing the difference he made and how much the town appreciated having him there. I love the idea of having that general knowledge and doing a lot of things on your own as well.
Chloe: Coming from Brisbane, I've only ever known city life. Now that I've come here and seen what it’s like, rural generalism is definitely on my radar now.
What prompted you to get into medicine, and how do experiences like this placement help shape this pathway?
Sarah: My father had rheumatic heart disease and he had a valve replacement when I was a child young. I remember seeing the impact the doctors were making on him during what was a really tough time for us. That was the initial spark in my desire to impact the health of my community and help other families. Added to that, my mum is a GP and I saw this beautiful impact she had on the patients in a way that I've never seen before. These factors inspired me to choose medicine, and now this placement has further influenced my decision.
Chloe: From a young age, I was stimulated by all things science. As I got older, I started to see how through medicine you could combine a love for science with positively impacting people. The patient-doctor relationship has become a big motivator for me after this experience; the people you get to meet along the way, the stories you hear, and the connections you make.
Dennis: Medicine is something I've always wanted to do. Seeing my parents work as GPs in rural South Africa for seven years, then moving to Australia where they have continued to practice with dedication to their craft has been very inspiring for me. Added to that, my own experiences with the health system as a patient when I was younger and having a compassionate doctor who fostered a caring relationship with me. So much so that in my first year of medicine I was able to do my health elective at his practice. It feels as if I’ve come full circle.