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Rural Clinical School of WA (RCSWA) alumni, Dr Fraser Pensini, has recently moved from Geraldton to Bunbury to continue his internship. The aspiring Rural Generalist shares his story so far…


Where do you hail from? I grew up on a cattle station in the Pilbara. The small mining town of Paraburdoo was 90 kilometres away and the nearest town to us growing up.

What/who made you consider becoming a doctor? We relied heavily on the presence of RFDS for medical help, and there was often no doctor in the town of Paraburdoo or Tom Price. It was nothing that I had thought much of until I went to boarding school in Perth and it was there that I recognised the lack of access to health care in regional areas.

Describe your training journey so far. I completed my medical degree at the University of Western Australia. I became involved in the SPINRPHEX Student Rural Health Club in my first two years before applying for and completing my first year of RCSWA in Narrogin in 2021. I enjoyed that so much that I stayed with the RCSWA and was one of the first group of final year students in Geraldton in 2022. I stayed and completed internship in Geraldton and am continuing my WA Country Health Service contract in Bunbury as a Resident Medical Officer (RMO) this year.

Does the rural clinical environment match your expectations? Yes, absolutely. My expectations were for a diverse range of experiences, and for more patient centred, holistic management. There are such great lifestyle opportunities after work as well.

What were the major differences you experienced in a rural setting versus metropolitan? Much, much less time commuting to work which just makes everything else that much more relaxed. I also felt there was more connection between the medical, nursing and allied health teams within the hospital as everyone worked in closer quarters. There was also more connection to community health professionals. With fewer community services available, it is vital to communicate with teams that do exist to get the best outcome for a patient.

Do you have a speciality interest and what sparked your interest in it? I am looking at rural generalist training with advanced skills in emergency medicine and anaesthetics. I think that this combination gives me the best skills to deal with working in remote locations and such a diverse work experience. It opens the doors for many possibilities including RFDS work.

What is the best part of doing what you do? Getting to enjoy my work environment, learning, and having the time to learn with much less stress and enjoying life outside of work. A bit hard to choose the single best thing!

Do you have any professional mentors or people you look to for advice? Yes, all I have met through the RCSWA. Most tend to also be rural generalists (RGs) which gives me a wide variety of experiences to draw from. I have found the most inspirational RGs that I have met have usually done a variety of roles during their JMO or registrar years, giving them a much more holistic approach to patient management.

Have you learnt any big life lessons going rural? It is important to be able to leave work at work. As junior doctors we have so much learning to do, and we will make mistakes. Going rural you will be around people you make mistakes in front of for much longer, even when you rotate to a different team. Mistakes are a normal part of a junior doctor’s life and learning, and many senior doctors will know this and support you through this. Do not be afraid to reach out to your mentors.

Where to next for you? I am currently working in Bunbury as an RMO and training with the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine to be a rural generalist. I am hoping to gain good foundation skills in internal medicine, emergency department and paediatrics whilst in a larger hospital such as Bunbury before my wife and I look to a smaller, more regional practice.

RCSWA Regional Training Hubs team members live in all corners of WA and connect junior doctors and medical students with experienced mentors and professional development opportunities. Find out more at or email [email protected]

Acknowledgement of Country