Advice for those considering rural general practice

A message to young doctors — a rural general practice experience

Rural general practice: what I wished I'd known

By Dr Lisa Fraser

Having moved to Ingham this year, for the first time in the last 10 years, I can work 0.7 and still drop off and pick up my kids from school. I can still take them to activities. I don't waste time commuting or doing the daily run around. I am two minutes away if they become ill and need picking up.

The practice is massively supportive, as are the schools and activities and people. My kids can get minded, dropped off and helped by a whole list of people if I am stuck.

I can do this because the town is small and has everything a young family needs.

I wish I did this 10 years ago. For the family with toddlers and primary school aged children, it is actually easier and often healthier for my family to be in a smaller town. Admittedly all towns do not offer the same things or support, but many would. There is a massive myth about school being better for primary school aged children in bigger centres among the typically high-achieving and perfectionistic (and dare I say elitist) medical profession.

There are basic activities — swimming, music, arts. There are parks and playgrounds and national parks. And there is slow time — just getting bored, playing chess, cooking and reading at home. And there is a delightful absence of indoor play centres, shops with things that are unnecessary and possibly harmful.

High school is another ballgame, for sure, and I agree that larger towns offer the diversity that young adults often need.

My husband is working remotely (from home) this year so I am likely to move back, but am seriously contemplating living rurally for a few years while my husband lives in the city, at least until my kids are in high school.

GP registrars whose partners work in cities can consider whether their partners ask their employers for a year working remotely. Many successful businesses are allowing people to work remotely. Other organisations should consider what they can offer to the broader rural community to help attract and retain rural doctors.

If GP trainees could realise the amazing opportunities presented in rural general practice, we could mobilise a larger group of people, the singles, newly married and with young children, to service rural areas, even if temporarily.

I hope you all consider rural general practice.

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