First-year doctors provide welcome boost to Wide Bay’s medical workforce

Dr Marzel Conradie and Dr Lewis Purcell, who both went to school in Bundaberg, were among the first year doctors undertaking orientation.

By Angela Norval

Although she grew up in Brisbane, first-year doctor Dr Jemimah Waugh has long held an interest in developing experience out of the main city area and learning more in regards to regional medicine.

Already excited to not only witness the dedicated medical training she has heard rave reviews of from fellow medical students; Jemimah is also interested to experience the relaxed community lifestyle that Bundaberg is well known for.

Local hospitals have been boosted by a group of 37 first-year doctors as part of the 2021 Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service medical intern program.

First year doctors have already felt welcome throughout their orientation taking place at Bundaberg and Hervey Bay hospitals before the doctors begin rotations through a variety of units that include general medicine, surgery, emergency medicine and elective terms in other specialty areas.

A total of 27 first-year doctors will be supervised out of the Bundaberg Hospital medical education unit, with local private hospitals also benefiting from having several of the cohort working out of their facilities.

Another 10 first-year doctors will be based at Hervey Bay Hospital, supervised by its medical education unit.

Jemimah said already she and her fellow interns had felt welcomed by the staff who were not only making sure they were receiving information in regards to their learning, but ensuring they had a good time too.

“This is an exciting journey for me, getting to explore the intricacies of regional medicine while still being close enough to my family in Brisbane to visit if I wish,” she said.

“Although it is early days in regards to our internship and our interest could be piqued in a number of different areas, personally for me I am wanting to develop a greater understanding of the needs and training to become a general practitioner in a regional area.

“Through this training I am hoping to not only further my medical training but I am very open to getting involved in the community and learning more about the local culture.”

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Board Chair Peta Jamieson wished the new interns well as they took the first steps in their medical careers.

“Building and developing our own medical workforce is a key goal within our strategic plan, Care Comes First… Through Patients’ Eyes,” Ms Jamieson said.

“Our medical intern program is a key part of that vision as WBHHS develops doctors starting their careers and supports them on their ongoing journey as junior doctors.

“Many of these doctors will continue with the health service after their first year, and hopefully they will also come back in the future as specialists – just like a number of our current senior doctors who spent time here as first-years.”

WBHHS chief executive Debbie Carroll welcomed the intern doctors to WBHHS and said she was looking forward to seeing them on the wards as important members of the clinical team.

“Practising at WBHHS facilities offers our first-year doctors a diverse range of clinical experiences and a well-rounded foundation for their future careers,” Ms Carroll said.

“As they work as part of the team this year, they will be closely supported by our senior clinicians, who will pass on their skills, knowledge and guidance.

“We hope their time with us as medical interns will give them diverse and rewarding clinical experiences that will drive a passion for regional health care and inspire them to continue their careers right here in Wide Bay.”

WBHHS medical services executive director Dr Scott Kitchener said having a strong cohort of junior doctors was important to the long-term future of the WBHHS medical workforce.

“Working alongside our first-year doctors enables our team to support and invest in the next generation of clinical leaders, both locally and beyond, by passing on their knowledge, experience and skills,” Dr Kitchener said.

“The long-term recruitment and retention medical staff is vital to regional communities such as ours – which is why the WBHHS leadership team and its medical staff are strong supporters of the medical intern program.

“The more time these doctors experience working in a regional area, the more likely they are to choose a career path that keeps them in the area or sees them return later on as a specialist or even a general practitioner – meaning our community still benefits.”