Dr Lim’s passion for travel and varied practice

When Dr Sarah Lim signed on with GPRA as a Future General Practitioner advisor in Victoria, she knew she would not be limiting her activities to one state.

Dr Lim, who Fellowed as a rural generalist in January, had already planned to work her way around Australia for 12 months. Her trip has led her to some of the country’s most remote locations.

Previously based in Bendigo, Victoria, she has clocked up thousands of kilometres this year, working in the hospitals of north-western Tasmania, rural and remote parts of South Australia, and in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.  The next leg of her journey includes Katherine in the Northern Territory and the coastal towns of Exmouth and Esperance in WA.

As an FGP advisor, Dr Lim is using Zoom and email to stay in touch with junior medical officers in Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia, providing advice and answering questions about the pathway to general practice and rural generalism.

FGP Advisors are late-stage GP registrars and early-career GPs who share their experiences, from training to practice. They are an important part of GPRA’s efforts to support medical students and junior doctors who are interested in general practice.

Dr Lim is also a teaching associate at the Monash University Rural Clinical School and a MD2 tutor at the University of Melbourne. She also recently joined the RACGP as a PEP pathway Medical Educator.

“Supporting colleagues and guiding junior doctors is one of my passions,” she said.

“When the FGP role came up I was excited, it gave me the chance to do what I’ve been doing at Monash and Melbourne University, but on a bigger scale.”

Dr Lim is also passionate about promoting general practice and rural generalist training.

Aspiring rural generalists learn additional skills such as obstetrics, emergency medicine, anaesthetics or mental health services.

The pathway helps them meet the diverse health needs of regional, rural and remote communities which can be hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away from specialist medical services and hospitals.

Dr Lim’s career choice led to additional training in obstetrics, emergency medicine, and paediatrics, and she intends to do further training in anaesthetics.

“I love variety. I enjoy wearing multiple professional hats and working across multiple sites.”

Dr Lim says her work as a rural generalist and the interactions with her patients are very rewarding. A patient in rural South Australia springs to mind.

“I managed an Indigenous man with diabetic ketoacidosis and severe multilobar pneumonia who was on non-invasive ventilation while waiting for the retrieval team to transfer him to Adelaide for appropriate care.”

“It was challenging, managing him as a sole doctor with limited resources, to persuade him to be transferred to an urban setting away from his family and land. The retrieval team took 22 hours to arrive.”

“We worked together as a team to care for him and involved the Aboriginal Liaison Officer. Before leaving, the patient said ‘I would like my lovely doctor to come to Adelaide with me please’.”

“It was a beautiful moment and I definitely felt great satisfaction as a doctor, despite not having much sleep in that 24-hour period.”

Dr Lim intends to continue to work her way around Australia, returning to Victoria at the end of this year.

She is an enthusiastic traveller, making sure she takes time to enjoy the varied locations. Watching the sun set over the ocean in Broome was a favourite way to end the day.

“Geography isn’t an issue for me. I’m happy to talk to junior doctors wherever I am.”