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Knowing when you’re in the right place
For Dr Carmon Guy, sharing her time between the local GP clinic and the hospital in the far north Queensland town of Cooktown provides not only a diversity of medical experiences but also an exceptional continuity of patient care with some bonuses thrown in the mix.
“The medicine is really interesting when you do both roles, especially in a small community. I might have to manage a birth and then a road traffic accident at the hospital all the same day. Then the following day I’ll drive to an Aboriginal community to run a clinic,” said Dr Guy.
“Working in the medical centre as well as the hospital you also get that continuity of care where you already know the patient and often their extended family because you are their GP. So when they present at the hospital in an emergency, you’re able to give much more holistic support and care to the patient and their family.”
“And the thanks you get is incredible. Getting some home-grown organic tomatoes dropped off to you because you’ve cared for someone in the emergency department is always a nice affirmation that you’re in the right place.”
Before moving to Cooktown and completing her GP training, Dr Guy spent four years at Cairns hospital where she completed her advanced skills training in paediatrics and obstetrics. Having this training helped to play a role in the re-opening of the birthing facility at Cooktown hospital, which has since had a significant impact on the wellbeing of the community.
“The women don’t have to travel to Cairns and leave town for up to six weeks while waiting for the birth of their child. By staying in the community, they can have their family around them, and also have the same midwife assist them throughout the entirety of their pregnancy.”
Having a birth in the hospital also creates wellbeing for the staff according to Dr Guy.
“It creates a really lovely vibe throughout the whole hospital, it affects all the staff, when there is a birth here. The team environment and community atmosphere are really strong here.”
Dr Guy also works as a part-time medical educator with JCU, supervising medical students from JCU in their fourth and sixth-year placements, and helps to support registrars in country towns throughout Australia.
“Working in Cooktown has really enhanced my career,” Dr Guy said.
For Dr Guy and her family, living in the Far North Queensland region provides for some fantastic ways to spend their downtime, with fishing at the top of the list.
“We spend a lot of time fishing out on the reef in our boat, or if it’s too windy or rough we go fishing in the creeks and go crabbing. There are also lots of sailing boats on the Endeavour River and we’re planning to learn how to sail.”
For those not keen on fishing, there are many opportunities to get involved in other activities.
“It’s one of those communities that are extremely welcoming. There are certainly no barriers to finding an area of interest. There are lots of people with different interests, whether it’s camping and hiking, arts and crafts, yoga, or sports like tennis and even underwater hockey. I’ve found over the years, whether it’s a medical student or a doctor, that they always tend to find something to do that they’re interested in.”
“Living and working in a community like Cooktown affords you so many personal and professional opportunities if you’re willing to take the chance.”