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Social justice through rural medicine

13 June 2017

A passion for working with people attracted Dr Daria Romanik to medicine.

Dr Romanik is undertaking her GP training through James Cook University (JCU) and works in Mossman, where she splits her time between the Mossman District Hospital and the Apunipima community controlled clinic located within the Mossman Gorge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

After completing her medicine degree at JCU and spending time as a medical student in a range of locations including Cooktown and India, Dr Romanik was drawn to the Mossman community.

“I’ve always had a strong sense of justice and standing up for people who don’t have the same level of access to medical care,” she says.

The Apunipima clinic provides comprehensive primary health care services including a doctor, nurse and maternal and child health worker supported by a range of visiting services.

“The Mossman Clinic is an Aboriginal centered medical model, so it’s mostly run by the local community. We see primarily Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and my role there is to be the GP and see whoever walks in the door. We coordinate ongoing care. There is a lot of chronic disease.

“Sometimes there is this perfect continuum of care where I will see someone at the hospital that I saw the other day in the clinic. I’ll see them here at the hospital and do some tests, and send them back again, and that is awesome. That’s the gold standard.”

Dr Romanik says Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is complex.

“There are so many issues there that you can sink your teeth into. It’s a really good opportunity to think holistically when you work in a community, and you have to think about spiritual and cultural understandings about what’s going on.

“If I come across anything that I’m concerned about or don’t understand, I can go to my cultural mentors or one of the elders in the community and ask them for advice. I feel very supported, which is fantastic.”

Dr Romanik’s career goal is to work in paediatric medicine in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

“Working as a rural doctor, you have a wonderful sense of community, and that’s something that’s really important to me, a connection to place.”

“From a clinical side of things, you see a massive range of pathology. You are the only doctor sometimes, and yes, it sounds scary, but in a way it’s quite liberating because you have to think on your feet, and then you find out very quickly what kind of doctor you are.”

In addition to her GP training. Dr Romanik is also completing a Master’s in Public Health and Tropical medicine through JCU.

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James Cook University’s GP training program supports registrars to live, learn and work alongside inspirational educators, supervisors and mentors in diverse regional, rural and remote locations across Queensland.

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