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Educator role inspires rural generalist

14 September 2022

Growing up on a sheep and cattle property near Hughenden, GP Medical Educator Dr Rachelle McNamara wanted to be a teacher.

But an inspiring rural placement with Cloncurry general practitioner Dr Bryan Connor as a first-year James Cook University medical student reaffirmed the choice she ultimately made in Year 12 to pursue a career as a doctor. 

“I knew after this placement that I had made the right decision to study medicine and become a rural generalist,” she says. “We’re fortunate through JCU to be able to complete many placements from early in our training.”

Teaching did turn out to be a big part of Dr McNamara’s life – she combines work as a rural generalist GP obstetrician in Ingham and at a general practice in Townsville with her role as a medical educator with JCU GP Training.

“My journey to becoming a medical educator initially started with me assisting with mentoring O&G advanced skills registrars,” she says. “The more I learnt about being a medical educator, the more areas I have become interested and involved in. 

“I love assisting registrars through their path to fellowship and helping to train more GPs for North Queensland. I also appreciate the opportunity to give back as so many doctors and mentors helped me through my training.”

Dr McNamara graduated from JCU in 2013 with a rural career in her sights. “I knew from early in my medical training that I wanted to complete a fellowship in general practice and be a rural generalist.”

“I loved the idea of looking after the whole family in both the rural hospital and GP settings. You can assist families from preconception through their pregnancy and labour to the postpartum care and childhood vaccinations. General practice allows you to practise continuity of care not experienced in any other area of medicine. We are very honoured to have such an integral part of our patients and their families’ lives”

Dr McNamara’s internship and junior doctor years were at Redcliffe Hospital, where she completed the ACEM Emergency Medicine Certificate before going on to advanced skills training in obstetrics and gynaecology at Redland Hospital. 

Moving back to North Queensland in 2018, she completed her general practice training in Ingham with JCU, earning dual fellowships with ACRRM and RACGP in 2020.  “I was very fortunate to complete my GP training with the supervision of Dr Scott at Ingham Family Medical Practice and a very supportive team of JCU graduates at the Ingham Hospital,” she says.

Dr McNamara credits her family for assisting her on the path to becoming a doctor. “My parents taught my sister and I primary school through Charters Towers School of Distance Education and we attended boarding school in Townsville,” she says.

“I nearly missed my medical school interview as we had rain on the property the night before I was due to drive to Townsville to interview. My sister and I managed to plough through the mud on our quad bike and meet our car which was waiting on the bitumen. I made it to Townsville just in time to have a quick shower to wash off the mud and get to my interview.

“I never could have imagined where that ride to my medical school interview would have taken me and am so appreciative of the journey that a career in medicine has given me.”

Read more stories of JCU's inspiring GP registrars, supervisors and medical educators in our annual report. Find out more about training in the Townsville region.

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. 

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