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As a locum GP in rural WA, you can make a real difference to country communities, as well as get back to doing the medicine you love.

For Dr Lin Arias, undertaking rural locums has reminded her of the joy and passion she experienced during her first years in medicine.

“If you were on a rural placement as a medical student or GP registrar, country GPs were more likely to show you procedures that you wouldn’t have learned in any hospital rotation then probably also took you out fishing, hiking and camping on your days off,” Lin said.

“You were able to explore parts of Australia and meet people whom you would never have met in your Perth based life.

“Being a GP locum is quite similar and is truly the most fun a doctor can have.”

“You are very much appreciated by the community; you don’t have to make a long-term commitment and it’s well paid. Suburban practice doesn’t match that for quids.”

Lin dismissed concerns that a city GP might feel out of their depth on a rural placement.

“If you are questioning your skills or the challenge, I assure you: the people in the practice and the town will welcome you, show you how things are done and support you in every way.

“You don’t have to have admitting rights, procedural skills or do after hours if that’s not your bag.

“A rural locum will rekindle that love of medicine we all had when we started our studies, when we were lit from within with enthusiasm, curiosity, and altruism.

“Go for a couple of weeks; you may just find your eyes open to a new way of experiencing medicine.

“I challenge you to prove me wrong!”

Originally from Melbourne, Dr Hanna Weber has taken locum jobs that have covered vast expanses of Australia, including Kununurra, Kalgoorlie, Darwin, Albany and Hobart.

“I’m keen on travel and you see places at a different level when you’re living there.”

Hanna enjoys being the “new doctor” in town, and doing short stints affords her a lifestyle where she can pursue other passions.

As a younger GP, Hanna has some non-negotiable requirements when selecting an assignment to ensure she never feels too far out of her comfort zone.

“I thought being thrown into new places would be hard, but it hasn’t been. The doctors and the clinics and the patients, too, are really understanding.

“I’m not yet ready to work as a solo doctor, so my assignments will generally be in towns where I can refer to other doctors or specialist services.

“I also have a routine; a kind of checklist of items that I run past clinic staff, so that I’m not caught short when I start seeing patients. For example, are there local MRI services or will I need to fly people down to Perth.

“I’ve always felt part of the team, that they’re really grateful to have me there. I ask questions and call the permanent doctors and they’re always helpful.”

“I’ve had a great experience everywhere I have been.”

The highlight is the “cool places” she gets to see and experience, with weekends and evenings free to explore.

After experiencing so much country hospitality, Hanna says she relishes the opportunities to forge new friendships.

“I was invited to spend Christmas with the family of one of my colleagues when I worked in Albany because they knew that I was there by myself. During my first week in Kununurra, I enjoyed a trip out on Lake Argyle. Every Tuesday we would have trivia at the pub. “It’s easier in small towns to make friends. You feel part of the community really quickly.”

Rural Health West works with practices throughout rural WA to source and organise locum assignments. Placements can be viewed on the Rural Health West website or register your interest with the GP Locums team at [email protected]

Acknowledgement of Country