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Interview with RGPWA trainee:
Dr Ben McKernan is training to become a rural generalist and is a participant on the Rural Generalist Pathway WA (RGPWA). The RGPWA Coordination Unit recently caught up with Ben to find out more about his rural generalist training journey and his life outside of medicine.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in the country, surfing and fishing in the South West region. I was a podiatrist in Albany before starting my medicine journey, and immediately returned for my internship.

Why did you choose Rural Generalist Medicine as a career?

I enjoy clinical medicine! I think the closer junior doctors get to tertiary hospitals, the further away they get from using their stethoscope. Establishing work-life balance is also much simpler.

Tell us a bit about completing your advanced skill in Emergency Medicine.

I completed my first advanced skill in Emergency Medicine in the Albany Health Campus Emergency Department (ED). The Albany ED is the perfect department in size and scope for training; it is a moderate sized regional hospital emergency department with 24-hour on-site medical staff and availability of specialty services. I was involved in resuscitation, assessment and stabilisation, as well as ongoing management that included safe transfer to the next level of medical care. The education program at the Albany ED is second to none. I learnt to work independently as a senior medical officer in a rural hospital, without local specialist emergency support. The procedural skills logbook for advanced skill training in Emergency Medicine is very hefty, so you need to be proactive in seeking out cases.

What do you most enjoy about Emergency Medicine?

The reason I chose Emergency Medicine as my first advanced skill is the utility and pragmatism of rural and remote Emergency Medicine. It makes you a flexible and handy doctor across a broad range of contexts, from retrieval, all the way to managing a patient in a tertiary ED.

Tell us about your experience with the Rural Generalist Pathway WA and the support you received from your Director of Clinical Training (DCT).

I have found the direction and regular contact with my DCT, Dr Airell Hodgkinson, helpful in firming up plans with practical suggestions and getting new ideas about how to make my training more comprehensive.

What are the next steps in your career?

Currently I am completing my Diploma of Rural Generalist Anaesthesia to gain a second advanced skill in Anaesthesia.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

My close friend and Emergency Medicine mentor is fond of saying “you can’t have systole without diastole.” I like relaxing by playing guitar, reading, playing video games, surfing, swimming and keeping active. I also enjoy a glass of red wine!

To find out more about some of our current and aspiring Rural Generalists visit:

Acknowledgement of Country