Claudia's PGPPP experienceI had never heard of St George until I got stationed out there for a three month GP rotation. I didn’t imagine that there could possibly be much to do, so I came prepared with plenty of books to keep me occupied.
I didn’t manage to read any of them. My days were jam-packed full of things to do. My adventures (good and bad) included:
- Visiting a giant farm and riding in the back of an old ute with cattle dogs
- Learning to shoot a rifle (and actually managing to hit a few bottles!)
- Petting beautiful baby farm animals
- Getting my car bogged in the mud
- Rescuing a baby kookaburra and nursing it back to health (I was rewarded with an infestation of bird lice!)
- Visiting a museum of beautifully carved and illuminated emu eggs
- Visiting one of Australia’s oldest pubs
- Eating a 5.7kg “road train” burger (with some help from my friends)
- Boot-scooting with the cowboys at the Nindigully Pig Races
- Learning to water ski, dragon boat and Zumba
- Seeing two deadly snakes in my first day in St George
- Helping out at the St Pat’s Fete BBQ
- Watching yabbie races
When I first got to St George, I had virtual strangers inviting me into their homes. At first I was suspicious of an ulterior motive, but now I have learnt that people out in the country are just genuinely friendly.
I was in St George around the time of the recent Queensland floods. The roads all around the town were cut off, and for a while I thought that I wouldn’t get home for Christmas. However, with the help of PGPPP and my supervising GP, Dr Pamela Turnock, I was able to visit home twice during the three months. Dr Pam went far beyond her duties as an employer to support me through these challenges. She has established a wonderful workplace, where the staff members are all good friends, where every employee feels appreciated, and where positive attitudes and enthusiasm abound.
Before I visited Western Queensland, I had never really appreciated the notion of the fighting Aussie spirit. There, I met people everyday who were doing it really tough: farmers who have had to contend with droughts and flooding rains; patients who had to travel back and forth to the city for specialist attention. We city folk don’t appreciate how lucky we are to have a massive variety of goods and services at our fingertips.
Another of my misconceptions was that the medicine out there would be rather basic. In fact, I learnt a tremendous amount and saw a truckload of challenging, weird and wonderful cases. I also had phenomenal teachers. I will be highly recommending St George to all of my colleagues and I fully intend to return in future.
Dr Claudia Espenschied, PGPPP Junior Doctor St George 2010