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Building family and birthing babies in Biloela

26th August 2019

As a patient, do you ever reflect on your medical treatment and appreciate all the times you’ve seen the same doctor? Whether it be for a prescription, serious illness or injury or even the birth of your child. Your doctor becomes an important part of your health journey and your family life.

But have you ever stopped to consider how the doctor feels about the time you spend together?

For Dr Angela Barrie, the special relationships built with patients through her practice are what drive her love for her job, in the small rural community of Biloela.

Dr Barrie splits her time between her Senior Medical Officer duties at the local hospital and General Practice registrar training at the medical centre.

“I really like working at the hospital and being able to see patients in a more acute setting. Whether it's coming in on call over night to see someone with chest pain, then having them transferred out and being able to see them again in a couple of weeks’ time in the GP practice to follow up how they've gone, what's happened and what their ongoing treatment is,” she said. “That's been really nice and a really different change to what I used to do back in the bigger centres. To be doing all three aspects.”

A north Queensland girl through and through, Dr Barrie studied Medicine at James Cook University, trained in Mackay hospitals and then sought out a rural opportunity to test herself.

“I'm from Mackay so I've always been in that regional area. I did my obstetrics advanced skill and once I completed that, I looked for jobs that were around. Biloela seemed like an interesting place for an adventure.”

Dr Barrie moved her young family to the central Queensland town in 2018 to take up a JCU GP training post.  She’s become a real asset to the community as a Rural Generalist with skills in obstetrics. She said a highlight so far has been helping local mums through their pregnancies and births.

“I love doing rural obstetrics. I see the ladies out in the community, then at the hospital and then delivering the babies and seeing them back in the community again.”

Working in a rural setting has enabled Dr Barrie to gain invaluable experience.

“I’ve made more decisions on my own. Been more independent doing caesarean sections myself, with the help of other obstetric staff, but I'm in that role where I'm leading it and just managing those situations.”

Dr Barrie reflected on the support she’s had from the local staff and GP program, since working in Biloela

“We get lots of support from JCU to do workshops up in Cairns and other areas. We get a supervisor provided through JCU, the medical practice and the hospital as well. So they go through different case studies with us, any questions we have about any real life patients we are having dramas with and training towards our exams. I would love to stay in Biloela and keep the training pathway going that way.”

Outside of the clinic Dr Barrie is a busy wife and mum of two. She said she’s been lucky to have the support of her family to chase a career in rural medicine.

“I'm fortunate enough to have my husband as a stay at home dad at the moment. So that's been nice to have that balance of coming back to work fulltime,” she said. “We've found Biloela a great little town to have a young family in. It's close enough to everything and we have enough to do here as well. Really nice people and everyone is really friendly and welcoming. We're pretty set up and happy to continue.

“One of the GPs in the community has actually been here for about 50 years. So he's delivered most of the adults here and their kids, and he's even moved onto grandkids as well. It's really nice. Maybe I’ll be that doctor.” She laughed.

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Building 39, Level 1,
James Cook University,
Townsville QLD 4811