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74 reasons for an intern to choose the Whitsunday Island Region

12th August 2021

Originally hailing from Brisbane, JCU GP Supervisor and Senior Medical Officer Dr Shaun Grimes made the move north after following the path to be a rural generalist GP.  

For 22 years, Dr Grimes has called the small town of Proserpine, situated in the Whitsunday Islands region of North Queensland, his home. And he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

“We're very fortunate to live in a part of the world where we have 74 islands on our footstep. We've also got the rural areas as well, the dam at Lake Proserpine to go barramundi fishing, and great nature walks from Mount Marlow through to Shute Harbour.”

Becoming Director of Medical Services at Proserpine Hospital in 2010, Dr Grimes knows well the training experience that junior doctors can expect when interning in this uniquely beautiful part of Australia.

“We have a very stable senior medical team based here at Proserpine who have all been involved in the education of interns in various guises, whether on the rural generalist pathway or on the JCU GP program.

“Many of our senior medical officers have been former registrars and Resident Medical Officers of this hospital who have stayed on. This means they’re already used to the style of training that the current doctors will be going through into the exam process, which is a great help for both RMOs and registrars.

“Education is very much a core to our business. And we believe that this focus helps our registrars and junior doctors to gain an advantage.”

For the intern or registrar who is at the early stages of their career, the small town of Proserpine has a lot to offer in terms of developing rural generalist skills.

“It’s great to have the rural generalist pathway on offer here as generalist skills are what you need to work in this environment. We want our doctors to feel confident in managing trauma patients when they come through our facility, as well as just dealing with general practice presentations.

“Our emergency department unfortunately receives daily trauma patients mostly due to Bruce Highway accidents, and so we also have staff who are retrieval specialists. We're very well supported by RSQ (Retrieval Services Queensland), and the Townsville and Mackay Hospitals with those emergency cases.”

In addition to the natural beauty of the Proserpine and Whitsunday Island region, according to Dr Grimes it is the community spirit of the people who live there that makes it a great place to live.

“All the staff at the hospital here are dedicated to caring for our community. We work here, we live here, this is our home.

“The community also really supports the hospital. Some of the medical facilities have come about thanks to fundraising by community clubs, such as the helicopter pad at the hospital which was built with funds raised by the local Rotary Club. Our monitored beds are also supported by local service clubs.

“Even when we had Cyclone Debbie go through here a few years ago, and many people lost their homes, it was great to see how people get together to support each other through difficult times. Not only in our small family here at the hospital, but across the broader community.”

While living and working in the Whitsunday region is classified as being a rural experience, Dr Grimes says he regards it more as being ‘rural but with fantastic benefits.’

“Once people do their training here, they see the benefit of working and living in a rural environment. They put their money where their mouth is. Many of our interns and registrars have come back here and made a wonderful life for themselves and their family.”

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