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He’s been around the world but there’s no place like Wagin according to Dr Pieter Van Maarseveen.

Pieter qualified as a general surgeon in his native Holland in 1985. Shortly after, he did a two-year stint in South Africa and Botswana before heading to the UK to do his GP training.

He eventually made his way Down Under taking on locum work in Brisbane before travelling west to Corrigin in 2011. He settled in the Wheatbelt town of the Giant Ram a year later.

“In South Africa, I was doing a lot of practical work and working in most of the departments, that’s what I loved about the work and probably how I ended up here in Wagin,” Pieter said.
“I love the hands-on stuff – there wasn’t much exposure to that in England, which is probably why I think my favourite places to work have been in Africa and right here in Wagin.”

Pieter said his time in region offered him a different experience every day.

“Working in a town like this as a GP it gives you diversity of care,” he said.
“It is very hands-on, one day you’re doing surgery at the hospital and the next you’re delivering babies.
“That to me was the main attraction of living and practising in a countryside like this.
“I love that you get to work independently, but also with other doctors. It means you get to do a lot of different things, experience different cases and get to know all your patients extremely well –
that’s what I like.”

As well as working as the town’s GP, Pieter is also a mentor to medical students who visit him about three times a year.

“It’s one of my favourite things and the students definitely keep you on your toes,” he said.
“You expect the difficult questions, which I like because it encourages you to stay up to date.
“It’s also good to be open to the younger generation. When you get older and in my case, grumpier, they bring you back down to earth.
“For me it’s all about helping them to help a patient when you’re not equipped with certain things – like a test for example.
“If you can’t get a patient tested until the following day you still need to know how to care for that patient when they’re with you.
“I also enjoy teaching them about ethics in the field, that to me is extremely important and I enjoy sharing that knowledge with the younger generation.”

The town’s health services currently include a visiting psychologist, a phlebotomist, osteopath, chiropractor, a visiting physiotherapist, a child health clinic and visiting female doctor.

However, the much-loved doctor said one challenge the town faced was keeping staff in the region.

“I have no idea why this is the case,” he said.
“In my opinion the countryside has more to offer than the city.”
“This place is beautiful, and the practical hands-on experience is like nothing you experience elsewhere – especially as a doctor.
“One thing I’d say is just ask yourself what you want, do you want some excitement – because that is the beauty of the country.
“It’s beautiful, the people are lovely, the exposure to different scenarios is good – for me there’s a lot to love about it.”


Acknowledgement of Country