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Be there for Barcaldine: Drs Priscilla and Welwyn Aw-Yong

12 April 2022

Be there for the community, be there for the teamwork, be there for Barcaldine.

It won’t take long for you to feel right at home in Barcaldine. This small central-west Queensland town is bustling with community groups and friendly locals who welcome newcomers with open arms and chip in when someone needs a hand.

The embodiment of this community spirit is initiatives like Artesian Original, a co-op craft store in the main street of town. The small store open two years ago and now features the crafter of 57 makers from Barcaldine, providing a community focal point, a creative and social outlet, and raising funds for local charities. Megan Otto, a jewellery maker with Artesian Originals says:

“This is about doing something fun and showing that there is always something social to do in Barcaldine. It’s one of those towns where everyone will say hello to you. You can talk to anybody, you’re welcome anywhere, there’s always a lot going on, it’s just a lovely community. If you come here with an open mind and get involved, you’ll probably stay here for life!”

Doctors who come to work and train in Barcaldine will find themselves embraced by the local community, as husband and wife rural generalists Dr Welwyn and Dr Priscilla Aw-Yong can attest. The JCU graduates moved to Barcaldine in 2017 and quickly became embedded in the community and advanced in their training and careers.

Now a JCU GP Medical Educator, Dr Priscilla works across the hospital and Barcaldine Medical Centre providing care to patients and training junior doctors on the JCU GP training pathway.

“People work together and feel passionate about the town,” she says.

“The rural generalist community is quite tight-knit and as medical educators we aim to build a really strong relationship with our registrars. We’re sharing their successes, the ‘light-bulb’ moments, and the challenges. We’re in it together.”

Likewise, Dr Welwyn has made the most of the opportunities on offer for rural generalists in Barcaldine. After Fellowing through JCU with ACCRM in 2020, Welwyn now works as Acting Director of Medical Services at Barcaldine Hospital and Multipurpose Health Service.

“We always knew we were going to come to the outback. We thought, if we’re going to do rural generalism, we’re going to do it properly! Barcaldine is the type of place where you have to think on your feet. Sometimes there might not be anybody else; you can’t just refer them ‘down the road’. You have this really broad scope of practice and that is very rewarding.”

For aspiring rural generalists who are keen to be part of a close-knit community while receiving supportive training, Barcaldine offers a fantastic opportunity. In doing so, you’ll be filling a need for a community that is feeling the impact of a shortage of GPs in the region.

Artesian Originals Maker, Megan Otto, summed up what it would mean to have access to more doctors in Barcaldine:

“For us, more doctors here would mean freedom. It would mean not having to worry about getting sick and wondering how long it’ll be until you see a doctor.”  

Discover a career as a GP in Barcaldine and be there for a community that needs you.

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James Cook University’s GP training program supports registrars to live, learn and work alongside inspirational educators, supervisors and mentors in diverse regional, rural and remote locations across Queensland.

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