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Finding the right work-life balance

8 April 2020

Sometimes career choices can be unexpected, yet surprisingly offer many hidden benefits.

Such has been the experience of Dr Emma Gillmore, who recently changed track from a city based hospital role to rural GP training based in Cloncurry, located in the heart of Queensland’s north west region.

Cloncurry, or the ‘Curry’, as it is affectionately known by locals, is well-known as a mining town with much of its workforce on a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) roster, including Dr Gillmore’s husband.

“After doing eight years of FIFO, now we’ve got kids and we needed to change. So as a family we moved up here, and it’s much better from a quality and work life balance point of view,” said Dr Gillmore.

“It has been a very rewarding experience coming to Cloncurry. I have found a real love for country medicine and enjoy every aspect of my work, which is something I wasn’t expecting.”

In comparison to Dr Gillmore’s earlier experience of hospital based emergency medicine, it’s the long term nature of the relationships formed with patients that is of special significance. “You have the opportunity to develop a great relationship with your patients as you follow their entire health journey. It’s a special and privileged position.”

Another significant benefit of being a rural GP, according to Dr Gillmore, is the chance to try your hand at a wide range of duties and expand your capabilities.

“There are a million differences, but the main one is your autonomy. You get to do a lot more things here.  Anything we need done, we often manage ourselves.”

This has, in turn, enriched Dr Gillmore’s medical experience. “As we don’t have the luxury of accessing specialist services in the town, we often manage very complex patients which is not only a great learning opportunity, but also provides for real job satisfaction.”

Cloncurry’s isolation may seem challenging, but for Dr Gillmore’s family the lifestyle has provided a busy calendar of social events and activities.

“Living in Cloncurry has been really good, it’s a really social town and there’s a lot going on. I think that’s partly because we are so isolated you need to make your own fun out here so everyone does. Certainly during the winter months there’s pretty much an event on every weekend.”

Dr Gillmore also feels well supported by JCU’s GP training program. “I’m quite new to the GP training, but so far it’s been very supportive, someone is always there on the end of the phone if you’ve got any concerns at all. From a supervisor point of view, here at Cloncurry they’re an amazing team that I am now a part of.”

Dr Gillmore also describes the people of Cloncurry as being like a supportive team.

“The community has a ‘we’re all in this together’ kind of feel. They’re a really good bunch of people to be around. I love it, so come out, come join us!”

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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.

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