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Meet Dr Rashida Malek
Where are you from or where did you grow up?
I was born in India to a Paediatrician father and a housewife mum. I grew up and studied in a small town until grade 12, after which I went to a city to study medicine. After completing my medical degree in 1994, I received a postgraduate degree in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and moved to Australia at age 33 in 2004.
What made you want to become a doctor?
My father's passion for medicine and medical teaching predominantly was the main driving factors for becoming a doctor and a medical teacher. From the age of five, I accompanied my father to the innermost rural and remote areas in our district, where he was doing free medical camps at places with no electricity or running tap water.
Tell us about your role?
Currently, I am one of two main supervisors at Excelsior Medical Centre in Gympie and a Medical Educator with JCU since 2018. Prior to that I have been informally teaching registrars, medical students, and nurses from very early on in my career as a doctor in India as well as in Australia.
What kind of partnerships do you build in your role?
I love getting involved in community welfare and I’m a strong advocate of rural medicine. I met with local MP Mr Tony Perrett to talk about improving the local base hospital services and received a letter from Wide Bay region MP Mr Liew O'Brien stating that our area was under consideration to be reinstated as an area and Commonwealth status of District Workforce Shortage. I also wrote to the Honourable Mr Greg Hunt and CEO of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital about addressing the needs of the Gympie region.
I’m involved in local sporting events on the weekend, predominantly cricket as my specialist husband and son play for local clubs and representative teams.
At the university, I am mainly involved in mentoring registrars and attending various workshops, conferences and meeting with other medical educators.
What do you love most about your role?
I love that I can make a difference in a registrar’s life, guiding, motivating, supporting and mentoring them through all three components of college assessment exams and thereby producing high-quality GPs to serve the community well.
What special interests do you have in your clinical/training work? Why did you choose these?
Due to my postgraduate training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, women’s health is my main area of interest, but I enjoy seeing a variety of patients from Paediatrics to Geriatrics.
What is your proudest work achievement or a memorable moment in training that has made an impact on you?
When registrars who previously have had two or three unsuccessful attempts at the Applied Knowledge Test (AKT) and Key Feature Problems (KFP), pass their exams. It is also very rewarding to be able to save lives, see patients get better from long or short term illnesses and coordinate their care. Some patients are waiting to see me for four to five weeks or coming to see me from nearby towns, even Brisbane or Toowoomba. I’ve very honoured to be able to give back to the community.
I am privileged to have trained under passionate teachers and I’ve had excellent teachers from my school days. I realise their role in shaping my career and life and thereby my family and loved ones.
Where do you see medicine heading in the future?
Medical training will remain pivotal in training future doctors, backed up by the advancement in technology and teaching methods. Senior doctors and teachers bring with them a wealth of knowledge and rich practical experience and wisdom that cannot be learned from textbooks alone. To me, the role of a teacher seems irreplaceable.
What was the impact on the community in a regional, remote or rural area?
I have been working in a regional area for the last thirteen years where I have seen the rural GP community and base hospital services largely affected by a variety of factors including but not limited to state or commonwealth funding and changing government policies. This has a significant negative impact on the community in the provision of medical services, which in turn affects so many other areas of life and business, restricting the growth of the community as a whole.
What advice do you have for registrars?
Once living and working in rural areas, you may come to a change of perspective. It’s much easier to raise a family and maintain closeness with your children, not to mention the stress-free lifestyle, and the ability to save more money in regional, rural and remote areas. JCU offers great opportunities to be in one of these areas, providing close supervision and intensive support to trainee doctors. Do not miss it.
What do you enjoy about the regional, rural or remote lifestyle?
I enjoy that there is no traffic, I’m so close to good schools, allowing me to spend more time with family rather than on the roads travelling. We live in large properties, enjoy sports on the weekends, know patients and the community, and we’re making great friends along the way.