General Practitioner, Bushland Beach Medical Centre
Senior Medical Officer, Townsville University Hospital
Visiting Medical Officer, Mater Hospital Pimlico and Mater Women’s and Children’s Hospital Hyde Park
Dr Kaylene Girgenti has many roles in life and enjoys her carefully curated Rural Generalist career based in Townsville. As one of the first QRGP trainees and a Queensland Rural Health Scholarship holder, Kaylene always knew she wanted to be a Rural Generalist. She felt drawn to the Rural Generalist ‘legends’ encountered at RDAQ Conferences.
“They had an incredible set of skills with larger-than-life personalities, making them seem like celebrities of the rural medical world. I was hooked by their stories. All I wanted was to live the same kind of life and inspire others, as they had inspired me. I may have fallen short of the careers they have, but I am happy with the place I am currently in. I am still passionately in love with my work and the life that I live”.
Kaylene’s journey as a Rural Generalist has led her to successfully manage working across both primary and hospital care.
“I find it incredibly invigorating and refreshing working across a wide variety of workplaces. I don’t get the chance to feel bored or stagnant; every day is different. The main challenge I face is keeping track of what I am doing. Everything must be detailed in my diary and planned well in advance (especially childcare). I need to be set and organised for ‘the next thing’, and not drop any of the important balls. I want to be there for my family, but at the same time I don’t want to neglect the career I love. It can be a balancing act sometimes, and I don’t always get it right, but I do my best to make sure I fulfil my responsibilities to my patients, family, and myself.
Finding the right balance has enabled Kaylene to succeed in her many roles. After 17 years of practise, she knows her limits, her boundaries and what ‘fills’ her up.
“You need to try and find the right balance for you, which will change at different times in your career. Not only finding the right workload, but the right balance of workplaces and different types of work. Whether that’s in education, advocacy, clinical practice, or administration, we all tick in different ways and we need to recognise our own limits as well as the things that drive us”.
Kaylene is thriving in her career and has an amazing lifestyle in Townsville to match. It wasn’t her first pick of location, but life had different plans.
“If you had told me twenty years ago that one day, I would be back living in Townsville, I would have laughed. I was never going to settle down in Townsville. Why would I when there was a whole wide world out there to explore?! But we travelled, we saw, and in the end so many things drew us back to Townsville and Bushland Beach. The number one reason was family. When you have your own young family, you realise how important it is to have family close by. Secondly, it was the lifestyle; the outdoors, warm weather, fishing for my husband, and our amazing friends who have largely remained in our local area. As life goes on you appreciate how much friends and family mean to you”.
“My motto in life is ‘say yes’. Sometimes I might regret it, but not very often. Every invitation is an opportunity, we only have one life, so live it! I love spending time with my immediate and extended family, my friends, and travelling (even though our trips have changed somewhat due to the pandemic; hello Big 4 caravan parks!). I try to stay fit, healthy, and active, and between all of that there’s no time to get bored”.
Life as a Rural Generalist gives Kaylene the flexibility to create the lifestyle she wants.
“You only need to check out my work schedule to see that flexibility is what it’s all about. In a single week I could be doing antenatal clinics at Townsville Hospital, assisting in theatre doing obstetrics / gynaecology cases, clinics in General Practice, attending to emergencies at the Mater Hospital in Townsville, flying up to the gulf to do outreach clinics, or working on Magnetic Island in the Queensland Health Clinic”.
“With a combination of public, private, acute and outpatient work, alongside family life and social life, my life is never dull or boring! I have the ability to choose my hours, which I realise is a luxury not everyone has, but that has been very important in ensuring my work-life balance remains sustainable”.
Kaylene is full of optimism when she considers her future as a Rural Generalist.
“At the moment I feel the need to provide some degree of stability and routine for my two young sons. However, in the future, I’d like to think I could explore both our domestic and international boundaries; taking my skillset to communities near and far that really need them. I love clinical work and can’t ever see myself leaving it completely. The sky’s the limit”.