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Home is where the need is for rural GP
The further Dr Bronte Donaldson has progressed through her medical training with JCU and the GP training program, the more determined she has become to return to her hometown of Mount Isa.
“I loved Mount Isa, but I didn’t go into medicine thinking I would go back there,” Dr Donaldson said. “Now, when I finish my training and get more experience under my belt, I want to go home to contribute to what my community needs, which involves a good, stable GP workforce.”
After completing her internship and Junior House Officer year in Mount Isa, Dr Bronte has gone an hour and half down the road to Cloncurry for her GP training in the local general practice and hospital.
“I love the diversity of the job. You’re doing all sorts of things that city GPs would usually refer to the hospital or a specialist. Out here you don’t have that option. Either a patient must travel 10 hours to see someone, or we do it ourselves. It’s a great challenge, but with the training I have, and continue to receive, I feel very prepared,” Dr Donaldson says.
JCU GP Training’s Enhanced Rural Training Environment Program (ERTEP) was launched in 2020 to support recruitment and retention of GP registrars in areas of rural workforce need.
“Given our location, it’s very expensive to get to training courses and on an early-career GP wage, it’s not possible,” Dr Donaldson says. “Thanks to the ERTEP support for my flights, I’m planning on doing an ultrasound course to upskill and help me feel more equipped clinically out here.”
After further training in Cloncurry, Dr Donaldson plans to head back to Mount Isa, where her family lives. Based on her experience with the training opportunities and support on offer in Cloncurry, she strongly encourages others to consider pursuing their career as a GP in the outback.
“Rural and remote medicine, although challenging, is the most rewarding thing you can do. It’s getting a range of experiences you wouldn’t get anywhere else. It’s helping communities that really need you. Your patients are so appreciative, and the people you work with become your family.”