FOR GP registrar Dr Benjamin Tang, deciding to extend his GP training rotation in Oberon for six months was an easy decision to make.
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"In less than six months in I felt my clinical skills and confidence had already quickly increased. I feel very privileged to be able to do what I love, in a small town with friendly people and knowledgeable supervisors," he said.
Dr Tang is just one of 1900 doctors training to specialise as a GP across NSW and ACT. To become a GP, doctors spend three to four years training in a variety of hospital and community-based settings.
Dr Tang started at Oberon Medical Centre in February and, during this time, has developed a strong appreciation of the diversity of rural general practice.
"Working in Oberon, you get to treat patients in the community as their GP and if they become unwell then you might be also treating them in the hospital emergency department, admitting them and doing daily ward rounds until they are discharged," he said.
"After this, you'll be the doctor following them up in the community. From heart attacks to stitching up scalp lacerations to seeing an unwell child in the middle of the night, no day so far has been the same, and it's quite different to working in the city.
"Training in Oberon during the pandemic has had definite benefits. It's been much easier to spread information in a small community, and there has also been a strong community effort on applying social distancing and the uptake of telehealth."
Georgina van de Water, CEO of GP training organisation GP Synergy, said GP registrars often play an important role in primary healthcare provision in rural areas like Oberon.
"Over the many years that we have been training doctors to specialise as GPs in rural communities, the consistent feedback we receive is that they find rural training a rich and rewarding learning environment," she said.
"As we have seen in the case of Dr Tang and Oberon, how local communities welcome and support GP registrars during their training can have a significant impact on their experience and training decisions."
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