So you’ve nailed your final semester of medicine and have been welcomed to the Queensland Rural Generalist Pathway as an intern. It’s now time to decide on your hospital preferences, but where to start?
Deciding on your hospital preference for your intern year can be daunting, especially as it likely means a move away from where you did your medicine degree for the next two years. QRGP trainee, Dr Josh Faint, lays out how he decided on his hospital preferences and shares some great tips on deciding what’s best for you during this stage of Rural Generalist training.
Start with the end in mind
My end goal is to be out in the country. As a Brisbane boy, I wanted to avoid the culture shock of starting my training in a very rural hospital location. That meant Mt Isa was off the cards for me for the time being despite it being a great place to do your first two years. I decided working in a regional hospital somewhere between metropolitan and remote would be ideal, so that helped me filter the hospital lists down somewhat.
Make multiple plans
Having a few backup plans if you end up somewhere further down your preference list than you’d like is important. What’s the worst that could happen? Imagine that and make a plan so you aren’t surprised if it happens, even if it’s extremely unlikely. All locations are accredited for training and are well supported, so it may be more about managing living in the location rather than the training you’ll receive. Approaching preferencing with this mindset is the best way to do it. Being able to adapt your preferences to suit your desires is easier when you have a few different fall backs. It allows you to end up in a few different locations, enjoy what they have to offer and still be happy.
Balance risk and reward
Being able to shortlist hospital locations based on a criteria that you decide on is a great way to go. Consider a location with features that interest you such as population demographic, hospital size and services, travel services, climate, outdoor adventure options, and family and friends that live in those areas. I had family in Cairns and Bundaberg and friends in Hervey Bay, so those locations were top of the preference list for me as support was important. Once you’ve done that, consider how willing you are to trade-off certainty of a position and your ordered list of location preference. You might really want to be at a hospital that is oversubscribed, and there might be another hospital undersubscribed that you wouldn’t mind being at as it meets your criteria and is reasonably high on your preference list. Maybe it is worth removing the uncertainty and preferencing that slightly less desirable hospital first for the extra peace of mind.
Take a tour
During my final year of medicine, I visited Cairns, Bundaberg and Hervey Bay with my family. Doing that helped me realise how much I loved the idea of living and working in Cairns and Hervey Bay. When it came time to preference hospitals, Cairns was oversubscribed and Hervey Bay wasn’t, so I had to peace of mind of know Hervey Bay was a sure thing for our next move. The trips made my decision much easier. It’s a good idea to check out the area before hand if you can and ask a few people who’ve trained there about their experience. Find somewhere you will enjoy living and you will have a great year!
Love your work
After two years at Hervey Bay Hospital I still love it! Being able to get out and work as a doctor has been such a great experience and the culture at this hospital is great. The people are super friendly and look out for each other. I’ve learned so much and I can’t wait for the next year! It’s been very busy at times too, with a few early mornings and late nights. Being able to do my first two years of training at a small regional hospital has worked out nicely for myself and my family.
Dr Josh Faint | QRGP trainee