Skip to main content

Building relationships for better health

26 July 2022

Dr Matthew Durden is no stranger to rural medicine, but his 12-month training rotation at an Aboriginal Medical Service in Yarrabah was a whole new and defining experience.

Since graduating from JCU in 2016, Dr Durden has worked in hospital and primary care settings in Cairns, Thursday Island (Waiben) and Innisfail. Following a two year stint on the Sunshine Coast, he returned to the Far North in 2020 to pursue RACGP general practice training through JCU.

“Medicine in Far North Queensland is rewarding, intriguing and challenging all at the same time,” Dr Durden says. “I genuinely enjoy getting to know a patient, coming up with a plan for them, and seeing changes to their physical and mental health over time,” Dr Durden says.

Dr Durden spent 2021 working at Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (GYHSAC), an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in Yarrabah. The clinic provides a range of clinical services and programs that address health issues, with a primary focus on early intervention, to the Aboriginal Community of about 3,000 people an hour’s drive from Cairns.

“I would recommend to everybody to spend time working in an Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) setting. It opens your eyes, not only to the medicine, but to the community, the culture, and the people. It's a rewarding way to practice holistic medicine in general practice,” Dr Durden says.

“Through JCU GP training you’re prepared when you go there. You have supervisors, mentors and locals who sit down with you and share about the community. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and I really enjoyed my time there.”

For Dr Durden, a highlight of the experience was the strong doctor-patient relationships he built during the 12 months of training.

“Over time, you learn a lot from patients about the community and the culture. It’s really special when people trust you and know you well enough to share with you their stories.

“Every patient will talk to you about the footy so if you know a bit about it you’ll be off to a good start,” Dr Durden says.

Another feature of the work for Dr Durden was the scope of practice which encompassed a broad range of health conditions. His advanced skills training in paediatrics added significantly to the contribution he could make to the community.

“You see such a variety of medicine; high rates of chronic diseases, as is the case for a lot of rural Australia. We had a lot of cardiac problems, diabetes hypertension, metabolic syndrome and lifestyle-related diseases.

“The clinic takes a holistic approach. On site, there are Indigenous health workers, nursing staff, midwifery and a range of visiting specialists and allied health staff. It’s a great team environment that works for the benefit of the patient,” Dr Durden says.

Dr Durden is spending 2022 working in general practice in Cairns and providing clinical skills teaching in JCU’s Medicine program. After such a positive experience in Yarrabah, he has his sights set on returning to an AMS after Fellowing at the end of 2022.

The Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program is opening its second recruitment intake for 2023, providing 1,500 Australian Government-funded places for registrars to attain a GP fellowship.

Find out more about training in North Western Queensland and what it can do for your growth and satisfaction as a doctor. We are here to help as you make your training pathway decision: sign up to receive updates about AGPT 2023, register for our info sessions, or chat with one of our team.

Interested in training to be a GP in diverse North Western Queensland?

Stay informed on your journey to AGPT 2023 and get your region guide.


JCU Stories
JCU Stories

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.

Why train with JCU
Why train with JCU

Looking for GP training with a difference? Find out more about JCU's training program. 

Get In Touch

Ph: 07 4781 3262
Building 39, Level 1,
James Cook University,
Townsville QLD 4811