I arrived in Lismore in mid-2015 to begin a 12-month rural clinical placement for Medicine from the University of Wollongong, coordinated by the University Centre for Rural Health. In August 2016 , following exams, I returned, and took up an elective surgery placement and a pre-Internship placement at Lismore Base Hospital, completing this in November.
In January this year I began the Internship program at LBH, and am hoping to continue there as a Registrar. I chose this area because it was a part of NSW,I had never visited, yet had heard so much about. The North Coast is known for its eclectic mix of people, shops and artists. It is a vibrant and unique area, with beautiful beaches, national parks and waterfalls to explore. It sounded the opposite of my home town of Bowral, a quiet, conservative ‘sleepy’ place, dubbed by locals as the retirement village of Sydney. I thought that being in my mid-twenties it would be a good time to set sail to the winds.
I have always liked the idea of practicing in a rural area. My Dad was the local pharmacist in Bowral, and I could see the joy it bought to him to have that connection with his patients; knowing multiple generations of families, understanding financial constraints of patients, and the strength of connectedness unique to rural communities. Lismore has what I would describe as the gifts of the rural life; I have experienced that same connectedness and sense of contribution to the community in the short time I have been living here - being involved in the Park Run, attending ‘Our Kids’ events are great examples of grass roots organisations making a difference to the local community.
During my time in Lismore, I have already formed life-long friendships with many of my colleagues and teachers, and these will undoubtedly continue to strengthen.
I have met the most wonderful people and have felt incredibly welcomed into the community. Within a few weeks I had both patients and colleagues inviting me over to dinner even though they had met me only ten minutes before. The beautiful countryside, incredibly generous and hospitable people, and living on a macadamia farm have definitely helped. The simple pleasures of having fresh eggs, and cows mooing on my morning runs are something Sydney cannot offer.
I aspire to a career in General Surgery, and to practicing in a rural area. I have been fortunate enough to have been taught by some of the best surgeons in Australia, and really admire the work they are doing for the community. Rural surgery is a unique field, requiring a certain versatility and adaptability of skills, and tailoring those to the needs of the community. Their commitment and dedication to serving the community are qualities I admire, and have contributed to my decision to return to Lismore. It is also wonderful to have so many great female surgical role models as well as male surgical role models, particularly Dr Curtin with whom I completed my elective medical placement last year. His technical skills as well his 25+ year commitment to serving the Northern Rivers is awe-inspiring.
The next two years will be an exciting adventure for me. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a student at the University Centre for Rural Health and to have met a community of doctors, academics and staff so enthusiastic about providing students with an unforgettable experience of rural life. My positive experience here as a student has cemented my desire to live and work in rural Australia (hopefully Lismore), and I hope that sharing it will positively influence many more students to come.