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From physiotherapy to medicine, Dampier-based medical student Beth Lamb is cruising towards a career in rural health.

Beth, who grew up in the regional towns of Katanning, Geraldton and Albany, completed a degree in physiotherapy before moving to the big smoke of Sydney. Later, a two-year stint in Darwin was a gamechanger, as it was there she decided to pursue a career in medicine.

“When working as a physiotherapist in Sydney I fell in love with the hospital environment,” Beth said.
“I loved the social dynamics of the ward and being part of a big team, as well as the variety of medical conditions I saw.
“When I moved to Darwin, it was a huge culture shock coming from a beautiful, private surgical hospital in Sydney to Royal Darwin Hospital where I was treating people who’d been gored by buffalos and all kinds of crazy things.
“It wasn’t until I was working in the NT that I really appreciated rural health and I applied for medicine because I wanted to know more and do more.
“I was seeing these patients with so many interesting conditions and I wanted in.”

Beth returned to Perth to study and was offered a placement with Rural Clinical School of Western Australia (RCSWA) in Karratha for her penultimate year of medical school.

After discovering the cost of accommodation in the Pilbara city, she and partner Jimmy decided it would be cheaper to purchase a sailboat and live on the high seas.

“I could see all my savings going down the rental drain, so we decided to make our dreams of living on a sailboat happen and bought the Royal Dugong,” she said.
“We spent Christmas working on her and Jimmy sailed up from Perth to Karratha with a couple of mates. We moved aboard in April 2021.
“It’s been easy, but it’s definitely been hard too. We have the necessities such as a toilet and shower on board, and the sailing club has a washing machine.
“Jimmy recently installed air conditioning so it’s very comfortable now!
“The Dugong lives on a mooring so every day we get up at the crack of dawn to ride the tender to land for work and let me tell you, that gets old quickly!”

Having yet to experience a wet season, Beth said this would be the next challenge.

“Our plan for the upcoming cyclone season is to motor into a creek if a cyclone comes – there are seasoned professionals living on their sailboats in Dampier and they’ve done it many times so that
will be interesting.”

Loving the cruisy lifestyle of the sea and opportunities rural life has to offer, Beth said she could not see herself being back in the city for a long time.

“I couldn’t imagine returning to heavy traffic and paying for parking every day,” she said.
“I’ve loved getting back to the country this year.”
“Ever since I moved to Perth to study medicine, I was itching to get out of the city – my partner even more so than me.”

Acknowledgement of Country