Country life calls to doctors

Michael TraillAlbany Advertiser
Dr Clark Wasiun with a patient.
Camera IconDr Clark Wasiun with a patient. Credit: Supplied

Giving doctors-inwaiting exposure to life in the country while they train is vital to filling the shortfall of medical services in the bush, Albany GP supervisor Dr Clark Wasiun says.

The Southern Regional Medical Group GP says the Albany community is relatively well serviced when it comes to the supply of doctors, but “you don’t have to go far” to smaller Great Southern towns to find serious shortages.

Dr Wasiun said his practice was adapting to the challenges presented by COVID-19 while continuing to train young doctors.

“It has been a challenge and that does put an extra strain on GPs, but we have tried to keep the process going,” Dr Wasiun said.

“A big part of the goal of being a GP supervisor and doing general practice teaching is to attract more GPs to country areas.

“We all know that the way to do that is to get them to regional areas during their training because they are much more likely to come back or stay and provide valuable services to regional communities.”

GPs across WA have experienced a downturn in the number of patients presenting for health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading the WA General Practice Education and Training organisation to launch the “Stand by your GP initiative”.

Dr Wasiun said waiting rooms were left “pretty bare” when the pandemic hit WA.

“We are trying to balance the goals and priorities of safety with our patients and our staff combined with continuing to see patients and not neglecting their health,” Dr Wasiun said.

“Waiting rooms were pretty bare for a while. I think in the past couple of weeks, patients are starting to come back, and they are starting to realise that we do have measures in place, and we are doing the right things.”

WAGPET chief executive Dr Janice Bell said it was important for communities to support clinics that were training future GPs.

“We ask patients to stand by their GP, especially if that GP has been selected to train the GPs of the future and by doing so, they are investing in not only their own health but that of future generations.”

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