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Meet Carol Kahn, Head of Operations
Where are you from or where did you grow up?
I was born in Portland, Oregon and moved to Townsville from Park City, Utah, a ski town in the Rocky Mountains. I have been in Australia since 2009 and have been a dual citizen of the US and Australia. I don’t plan to return to the US except to visit extended family and friends, once international travel is allowed again.
Tell us about your role?
As the Head of Operations for the General Practice (GP) training program at JCU, I focus on the non-clinical aspects of running the program. We have a network of offices and staff across our many sites, and my role is to support them to do their work. As part of my role, I represent JCU GP training in the Regional Training Organisation Network (RTON) and in broad stakeholder engagement activities including General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA), General Practice Supervisors Australia (GPSA) and Health Workforce Queensland, to name a few.
What kind of partnerships do you build in your role?
Too many to mention, as I work to build them locally, regionally and nationally in support of the JCU approach to GP training. As everyone knows, we focus on local community needs and training to increase the GP workforce in rural, remote and underserved communities across Australia.
Have you worked in a regional, remote or rural area that lacked access to a GP? What was the impact on the community?
I lived in a town of just under 10,000 people in rural Wyoming for five years.
I worked in a home-based palliative care program amongst a team of nurses, social workers and GPs who provided individualised hospice services to patients nearing the end of their life. Our motto was, ‘when you can’t cure, care’. The broad scope of practice of the medical staff assured that the quality of care was as good as, if not better than similar services in a metropolitan area, and it helped that we were all members of the same, close-knit, local community.
However, there was also the other end of the spectrum. While expecting my second child I developed significant pregnancy complications. I had to be airlifted by LifeFlight to a tertiary care hospital 500 km from home to receive the care that I needed. As you can imagine, it was quite disruptive to be so far from home, especially since I had a two-year-old and no local family.
What advice do you have for registrars? Why would you encourage them to train/work outside urban centres?
I would encourage them to give rural a try. It isn’t for everyone, but one can only know if one gives it a try. I think it is a shame that more medical schools don’t offer significant rural exposure (except to those already wanting a rural context). I know a few ‘accidental’ rural doctors, including one who never imagined living and working rurally, but whose opinion changed once he had a brief exposure to a small, underserved community.
What do you enjoy about the regional, rural or remote lifestyle?
I feel more centred – unlike the hurried feeling I often feel when visiting Brisbane or Melbourne. And the chance to be part of a community where everyone knows each other, overall it is fabulous.