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Rural rotations for junior doctors: Making a medical career work for your lifestyle and interests 

By Dr Brit Wicksteed , AMA (WA) Member; Resident Medical Officer, RPH; and Founder, WA Rural Doctors in Training 

Have a rural term? Lucky you! You’re about to experience how you can make medicine work for your lifestyle and interests, instead of it working you.  

Rural rotations allow you to expand your clinical and non-clinical skills, confidence, experiences, and travel diary. Here are some tips to make the most of it. 

  1. Engage in the local culture: Your term will only be as fun as you make it. Put yourself out there with the medical students, doctors, allied health and the locals, and step outside your social comfort zone. Join the local run club or Parkrun, try the local iconic venues, book in a cultural tour, and immerse yourself in the beauty of rural life.
  2. Feel the fear and do it anyway: You may get to do new procedures and you’ll learn a lot. You will have closer and more supportive senior supervision and the ability to work more independently, so take advantage of these opportunities. 
  3. Engage with yourself: You won’t have to worry about your usual commitments, commuting, and travelling half an hour to see your mates – plus, you’re getting paid. Use this time to remember what makes you feel good, and reconnect with it! See how important work-life balance is for rural practitioners, and how you might plan your career to achieve your non-work goals.
  4. Enjoy it: Even if you’re dead set on working in the city, all experiences teach you something. Knowing the context of your rural patients and understanding the barriers they face in accessing healthcare will help you care better for your patients down the track. Your enjoyment largely depends on your mindset, so you may as well have a good one. If you experience difficulties during your rotation, please do contact your local JMO society, WACHS Medical Education Unit, or the WA Rural Doctors in Training society.

 This article first appeared in the AMA (WA)’s 2023 Intern Guide – Internship 101: Finding your way as a new intern.

The guide is packed with useful advice and information to help all new medical interns navigate their first year of practising medicine.

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Acknowledgement of Country