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Having it all
For Doctors Laura and Michael Pfeffer, the decision to train as rural GPs was one of the easiest they’ve made.
The Roma based couple, who are completing their GP training through JCU, fell in love with both rural medicine and the rural lifestyle during a year-long placement in Stanthorpe. They’ve never looked back.
“Coming out of medical school I didn’t know what speciality I wanted to do. In Stanthorpe, we got a taste of what it was like to work in the country. We experienced the diversity of practice. I really enjoyed that jack of all trades medicine, where you need to be able to deal with whatever comes in the door,” said Michael.
He was also particularly drawn to the opportunity that working in a rural centre gave him to provide continuity of care to his patients.
“You treat someone as their GP, you know about their life. When they get really sick you’ll treat them at the hospital. Then you follow up in the GP clinics. Having that continuity of care at all levels is really, really lovely.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Laura, who loves the generalist approach where no two days are ever the same.
“We love the work. One day you are in the emergency department stitching up a wound, the next you’re in a birth suite delivering a baby. Then you see them in the GP clinic after the baby is born and you go on to do their vaccinations,” Laura said.
As Rural Generalists, Laura and Michael had trained in towns across rural and regional Queensland. Laura completing an advanced skill in Obstetrics, Michael in Anaesthetics. When it came time to undertake their General Practice training, Roma seemed an obvious choice.
“We had a lot of experience with rural towns and knew the size of the town we liked and the medicine we liked. We had a lot of good mentors, people who were doing what we wanted to be doing,” Laura said.
“We looked around a lot. We needed a place that could support two GPs. We liked the size of the hospital in Roma and the general practice here. It also has a lot of support in terms of specialties so we have the ability to do a lot more than in some of the smaller towns.”
It’s a move that has more than lived up to their hopes, providing a welcoming community, a diverse caseload, great training support and the perfect lifestyle for a young family.
“Michael and I have been able to go part-time. It’s been really flexible so we can share the care of our daughters three days a week. That’s one of the best things. We get to watch them grow” Laura said.
“We don't feel like we are always rushing from one place to the next. You don’t have a huge commute. Our friends are really close and you can walk to everyone’s house for a catch-up.
“You can go for a ride or a run and within two minutes you are out of town and there is no one else around. It's beautiful and open with flat plains. I really like that. It’s lovely and relaxing. It's such a nice atmosphere,” Laura said.
It’s a lifestyle both Laura and Michael have taken to heart, and a career they believe will provide challenges and satisfaction for years to come.
“You look at most of the specialists around and they are stuck in big-city hospitals in offices doing one very specific thing. You then look at their relationships and family and time outside of work. A lot of specialties and surgery demand almost your entire life,” Michael said.
“That's not something Laura and I wanted out of a career. We want something where we get to see our kids but is still very interesting, diverse and fulfilling. It's finding the balance between enjoying work and working hard, but also having time outside work to actually live life.”
It’s clear they’ve found that mix in Roma.