Senior Medical Officer (PF) / GP Registrar, Biloela
Angela is coming into her third year working across the general practice and hospital setting in Biloela, central Queensland. With an advanced skill in obstetrics, Angela enjoys providing continuity of care for even her smallest patients right from the beginning.
“It’s nice to be able to see ladies in antenatal clinic as well as in GP. Starting off their referral in general practice, seeing them down the track in the hospital to deliver their baby and then again for their six-week check-up, needles and everything that follows is really great. I’ve been able to do that with a few families.”
Shae is a new mum who benefited from Angela’s care throughout her journey to motherhood.
“It’s good seeing someone I can trust. I saw her before I became pregnant as we were struggling with fertility for two years. She ran tests and actually helped us get pregnant. I then saw her at the Medical Centre for check-ups and the odd time at the hospital when I had an accident while pregnant. After I had Leo, I had all the baby check ups with Dr Barrie… it’s great to have her handy.”
Angela’s helpful, caring nature was important to Bruce, who has sadly lost his wife, Megan, to cancer recently.
“Dr Barrie has been Megan’s doctor from day one, since she first had the cancer… I remember the very first time Megan had a seizure. She was rushed to the hospital and Dr Barrie was there basically the whole time. She was wonderful; I couldn’t have asked for any more than what she did.”
“I had never seen someone I cared so much about in pain like that before. Even to this day, I still wonder how I would’ve kept it together if Dr Barrie wasn’t there. When you’ve got someone in your corner like that during such a tough time, you sort of draw from their strength.”
Angela credits her shared employment arrangement with being able to care for her patients in a way that’s important to her. The GP and hospital job sharing model has been as a great way for registrars to develop a breadth of valuable skills as well as for patients to see their doctor when they need to.
“I think the job-sharing model works a lot better. If you have a consistent registrar that comes through and the patients are liking the registrar, then they just stay with them. The GP and hospital supervisors have been really supportive with sharing. I prefer to continue on with my patients rather than doing a six-month block of one or the other.”
For Angela, the variety of medicine is the best thing about being a Rural Generalist. It’s also a major drawcard for medical students and registrars.
“I was at the hospital with a medical student and we were doing an induction for a lady who was post-date. We popped our heads in to look after her, then went back out to ED and did acute where we saw someone with chest pains, did some stitches on somebody, and then went back and popped our head in on the lady having the baby again. We have a population with lots of kids and elderly patients and everyone in between.”
Bruce has been happy to see medical students sit in on his GP visits with Angela. “I like people to be given the opportunity to learn. You can’t get to know what the community is like unless you speak to people.”
The Biloela community has worked hard to develop a stable medical workforce and continues to be a key driver in attracting doctors. Angela says “They worked really hard in the hospital to get College accreditation at the start of last year and that’s enabled registrars to come through. The Biloela Medical Centre was actually set up by the community to keep and attract doctors to town.”
Getting involved in community activities has been Angela’s way of reciprocating all the support she’s received from her community. “Community support for health services is usually what has drawn people to practise in the bush.”
Her advice to upcoming Rural Generalists is to give back to your community by supporting their local events and being involved where you can. “You get back what you put in, so make the most of what your rural community has to offer, no matter where you are.”
*We would like to thank community members, Shae and Bruce for sharing their stories.