Intensive Care Registrar / GP | Cairns Hospital and Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS)
Growing up in a mining family that moved frequently, Emma knew from the outset she wanted to work rurally. Emma attained her Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) Fellowship in 2018 with advanced skills in anaesthetics and emergency medicine and worked at Thursday Island. She later moved to Cairns where she works as an intensive care registrar at the Cairns Hospital and with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Emma hasn’t done things by halves. Not only did she and her husband navigate the pressures of medical school and postgraduate training; they were also raising a young family while she was still at uni. Emma says she wishes she knew more people with young children at the same time she was having them. “I wish I knew how to ask for support at that time and more recently, I wish there was an easy list of rural hospitals that have good child care services.”
Emma’s experience has prompted her to talk to those in training about the importance of building support networks and finding the right people to connect with. She credits the QRGP’s prevocational workshops with helping her meet colleagues and team members who became a source of support and advice during her junior years. “You get to know people through networks which makes it a whole lot easier, especially with coordination and things I wasn’t sure how to do. I now talk about the places I’ve worked and the child care or schooling systems they have to try and give people a heads up on what to expect.”
For Emma, her husband and young family, working in Thursday Island and with the RFDS has required planning. she encourages trainees to research communities of interest and use their networks to plan their career. “Planning is so important. Finding the right place and the right position that’s going to help you along in your training relies upon you using your networks and speaking to those on the ground in the locations you’re interested in. “I always got the support, advice and contacts I needed to guide me. We have learnt to accept the community into our family and let the community accept us. We work with other parents to share the care of the children. When you rely on other people, they will rely on you as well. It’s goes back to the idea that it takes a community to raise a child.”
Emma says her advanced skills are invaluable in her every day work. “If you are working rurally and remotely as a GP, you come across emergency presentations and it’s nice to know how to manage them. If you are working as a Rural Generalist anaesthetist, you come across emergency presentations and you need to know how to manage them. I really like pre-hospital medicine, so emergency medicine and anaesthetics work really well.”
As a Rural Generalist, Emma loves the wonderful variety and breadth of medicine. “I liked doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I think that’s why a Rural Generalist career has been the ideal thing for me. I like turning up to work and not quite knowing what I’m going to be doing for the day. For me that’s something that I’m passionate about. One day I could be doing a GP clinic, the next day a full kid’s dental anaesthetic list, the next day flying off to an island to do a clinic, then the next day I might be doing retrieval. It’s just that wonderful variety.”
The future holds more variety for Emma. “I’m doing more retrieval work next year. I currently do fixed wing retrieval and next year I will do rotor wing retrieval out of Cairns. I want to continue doing diverse work. I don’t plan on settling into one job forever.”