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General practitioner obstetrician (GPO) Heidi Tudehope has travelled far and wide but in the end all roads led her to exactly where she was meant to be – WA’s South West.

The 42-year-old, who has lived in WA’s iconic Margaret River region for the past six years, says after years of working around the country she is finally ‘home’.

Beaming across the telephone line as she shares her story, Heidi grew up in far north Queensland, before moving to Perth where she
completed her Bachelor of Science.

She went into nursing, working around Australia and spendingtime in a non-clinical role in Aboriginal health before turning her attention to medicine.

“I was just way too interested in what the doctors were doing so I ended up jumping ship,” said Heidi.

“My parents knew from the age of six that I’d go on to do medicine, but they didn’t push me, they just let me find my way.

“Having worked clinically I had an idea of where I wanted to be, but I couldn’t decide between emergency, obstetrics, and general practice.

“Then I realised that if I went rural, I could do all three! I did a rural placement in my final year and I’m so glad I did.”

Now, no two days are ever the same for the 2018 WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Intern of the Year.

“You treat absolutely everything; it’s a huge part of being an emergency doctor down here.

“Margaret River Hospital’s maternity unit is small, but we have capacity to deliver low-risk patients.”

“Things don’t always go to plan though, so I am so grateful to have a strong women’s health background and to have neonates and paediatrics experience.”

Last year Heidi took part in the GP Obstetrics Mentoring Program which helped her transition to independent, safe practice as a newly qualified GP obstetrician.

“As a newcomer to town, it takes a while to develop your resources, understand your location and learn how everything works before you can really start contributing as a clinician.

“WACHS has a series of credentialling requirements to ensure patient safety, so there were quite a few coursesand qualifications I needed to
complete to start practising as a procedural GP.

“That involves both time and cost, so the financial support from the mentoring program has helped me find my footing while getting

Describing herself as a ‘freshie’ Heidi has already encountered many cradle-to-grave moments as a country GP.

“On one occasion we had been with a patient who sadly passed away. The patient’s family were there and they were able to hold their hand and say their goodbyes.

“I then walked down the hallway to attend a delivery of a baby I had cared for throughout mum’s pregnancy.

“After bub was born, the family of the patient who had passed asked about the baby and took solace in hearing that a new life had just come into the world.

“It is such an intimate thing to be involved in someone’s joy and in their grief; I consider it a great privilege.”

Heidi has no plans to move from the South West.

“I am in my 40s and I am never moving again.

“I have lived and worked all over Australia and the world – I love that I get to put down roots and have some longevity in my career here.

“I hope I get to experience delivering the children of those I have already delivered. I am not going anywhere; I am here for the long haul.”

Acknowledgement of Country