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JCU doctor supporting Emerald in the GP drought

17th July 2019

After witnessing his family struggle to get access to doctors and healthcare services living in rural areas, Dr David Molhoek decided that he was going to be a part of the solution.

“My childhood was very much a city childhood but I did have that exposure to rural Australia,” he said. “My family and I went for holidays at my grandparents and cousins cattle properties, there was a lot of exposure to rural living, swimming in dams, mustering and going out on four wheelers.

“Growing up, I heard that my family struggled to get access to healthcare because doctors are in short supply, for people living in rural areas. I thought that's my family, that's my relatives - It feels good to be a part of that solution.”

In 2016, Dr Molhoek became a registrar on the James Cook University (JCU) General Practice (GP) training program. JCU offers training opportunities across regional, rural and remote Queensland. Dr Molhoek loves having the opportunity to do placements across a diverse geographical area.

“I like the fact that there is a broad number of placement locations available in the region,” he said. “You can be the far north in the lush Daintree Rainforest or you can be by the beach in Proserpine. You could be in a place like Emerald, where you can be immersed in the agricultural and mining industry or, you could be somewhere further South in a frosty, cool climate. There is such a broad diversity of places available to practice at.”

JCU offers support, training and education that is connected to issues of relevance in the North Western Queensland.

“I would recommend JCU’s GP training because it provides a strong education program with very useful resources available and a lot of support for registrars working in a rural and remote context. Working in a rural and remote location can be very isolating, JCU is very good at providing that connection and appreciation that we are all in this together. Doctors who are practising in rural areas are brought together three times a year for the first year which, builds a lot of comraderies.”

Last year, Dr Molhoek moved to Emerald with his partner to continue his GP training at the Emerald Medical Group.

“It’s a great community out here and it's an interesting town. There is a strong sense of community spirit,” he said. “I love my general practice time because you get to build those long-term relationships. The magic of general practice is you have that time to get to know your patients and build that rapport and continuity of care by working up those diagnoses over time.

Currently, his time is split between the GP clinic and the Emerald Hospital, where he works as a Senior Medical Officer in the Emergency Department.

 “I love my hospital time because it is exciting, it is busy and it is interesting. At the hospital, there are around 60 patient presentations per day amongst four staff, which means that I have 10 to15 patients per day.”

As one of a few doctors in Emerald with an advanced skill (AST) in anaesthetics, Dr Molhoek’s expertise is always in high demand.

“In a rural town you're always going to be pulled back because there are shortages in health care services,” he said. “I chose to do an AST in anaesthetics because it is a very useful skill to bring into a rural area and it is very useful in hospital settings. My role in anaesthetics at the hospital means that I can allow patients to have a degree of comfort approaching intubations, ED procedural sedation, obstetric emergencies, and epidurals for caesarean sections.”

One of Dr Molhoek’s GP Supervisor is the Practice Principal for Emerald Medical Group, and JCU Senior Fellow, Dr Ewen McPhee. According to Dr McPhee, the JCU GP training program provides comprehensive training packages that support registrars.

“JCU offers great wrap around support for the clinical development of Rural Generalists and General Practitioner trainees,” Dr McPhee said. “This happens through local involvement of experiences educators close to where people are engaged in their training, and a comprehensive body of supportive material and pre-examination training.”

This year, Dr Molhoek is expected to Fellow and is looking forward to staying to service the Emerald community.

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