The step from medical student to Rural Generalist can feel more like a leap, but there are many ways medical students can gain exposure to the exciting world of rural generalism, to help prepare them for life as a future QRGP intern.
Dr Jessica Simpson is one of our new QRGP interns in Toowoomba and shares her insights into why she applied to the QRGP, and how she spent her final year of medicine exploring and delving into rural generalist medicine.
Let’s start at the beginning
I have lived in rural and remote locations for most of my life. I was born in the isolated Shetland Islands, an archipelago of islands between Northern Scotland and Norway where I lived until the age of six. My family and I relocated to the Pilbara region of Western Australia and lived in the rural town of Karratha, where I completed my primary education.
Living in remote environments from such a young age enabled me to see firsthand the limited access some communities have to medical services, with people travelling hours to receive basic treatment. Growing up I was inspired by the Royal Flying Doctor Services (RFDS) who always endeavoured to provide accessible medical services to everyone, regardless of culture or geographic location.
Why I chose rural generalism
The final experience that ignited my passion for a career in rural medicine, was the 2021 Rural Doctors Association of Queensland (RDAQ) Conference. The conference featured numerous clinical skills workshops, panel discussions, and group activities, all facilitated by practising Rural Generalists from around Queensland. I was inspired by their stories and experiences, from Roma to Cooktown, they each spoke so deeply and passionately about their job and described feeling a sense of excitement when they went to work every day. The true satisfaction surrounding their career path was infectious! I instantly felt drawn to being part of the rural doctor collegiality.
As someone who thrives on participating in ‘a little bit of everything’ and having skills across many areas, I knew rural generalism would be the perfect fit for me. I feel as though a career in rural medicine will provide me with an experience that is simply unobtainable elsewhere.
Jumping into the world of rural generalism
It doesn’t matter where you grew up, or where you attend medical school, there are many ways you can experience the best of rural generalist medicine as a student.
- Attend conferences
Step out of your comfort zone and attend conferences like the AMSA Rural Health Summit and RDAQ. They are great means to meet experienced Rural Generalists and build connections with fellow students pursuing the same path. Ask them questions about their journey, you would be amazed at how different everyone’s story is. Register for clinical skills workshops, like the QRGP Doctors in Training Workshop.
- Network with likeminded students
Join your university Rural Health Club. They are dedicated to helping medical students experience the unique career and lifestyle opportunities that can be found in regional, rural, and remote medicine. You travel around Queensland to events and raise awareness for rural health. No matter what university you come from, being around people with the same vision can ignite your passion for rural health.
- Rural placements
Take the opportunity to undertake rural placements and experience rural generalism firsthand. Each university offers their own rural placement program, contact them directly to see what is available. I undertook placements alongside the Charleville Royal Flying Doctors Service, spent time with Dr Michael Clements undertaking rural outreach clinics in Karumba, and completed my final 10-week placement in Longreach. Each experience was so different, and the behind-the-scenes view helped me understand how expansive rural generalist medicine can be.
- Connect with a Rural Generalist
Being able to connect with a practising Rural Generalist is invaluable. The QRGP team is available to offer career advice and support and connect you with a practising Rural Generalist. They will be able to answer your questions and share insight into what is possible.
Having gained numerous rural experiences last year, I am feeling very excited and inspired to commence my QRGP journey this year. I hope to work as a Rural Generalist in western Queensland with advanced skills in obstetrics and paediatrics. I want to immerse myself in my local community and get to know my patients. I hope I’m able to inspire medical students and junior doctors to find their calling as a rural generalist along the way too.
Dr Jessica Simpson
QRGP trainee, Toowoomba