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Choose rural general practice for a rewarding career

7th September 2017

Dr Cindy Jackson’s journey to becoming a GP has included many experiences and opportunities for growth, which she says helped her become a better doctor.

Dr Jackson is a GP and a Medical Educator with James Cook University’s Generalist Medical Training (GMT) program, who owns her own practice in the small town of Childers, 50 kilometres outside Bundaberg in Queensland's Wide Bay region.

Prior to training to become a GP, Dr Jackson studied biomedical science and worked as a scientist in histopathology (the study of diseased tissue), before studying medicine and anatomical pathology and working in a variety of rural and regional hospitals across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland 

Dr Jackson says everything she learned while working in the hospital system has been useful in general practice.

“The time spent going through a variety of specialty areas provides a lot of insight into different conditions that translates well into general practice,” she advises.

It was the independence and diversity of practice that most attracted Dr Jackson to begin her career in general practice.

“I was keen to keep my emergency skills in use but have a more complete patient care experience than was possible within the confines of the hospital system.”

Dr Jackson moved to Childers to complete GP training and then went onto open Childers Family Medicine, with her husband (also a GP), in 2011.

Dr Jackson encourages doctors considering a career in general practice to learn about the business aspects and says owning a practice provides professional freedom and opportunity for work life balance.

“When my husband and I decided to open our own practice, we had a very clear vision of wanting to be a truly team-based general practice and a genuinely enjoyable place to work.  We have developed and recruited a fantastically skilled group of practice nurses (including midwives, lactation consultant, early childhood, chronic disease, wound care, continence) without whom we could not deliver the patient care that we do.”

“We provide a very individualised and caring service to our patients - being a rural practice we know our patients well and it is not uncommon for us to have to do things like driving cars or mobility scooters back to people houses if they need to go to hospital, or park them in our driveway until they come home!”

Dr Jackson says she is glad she chose to practice in a rural area and notes that she finds rural practice particularly enjoyable.

“Being known in your local community and forming meaningful relationships within that community - sometimes that means that the professional lines are blurry, but for me, it makes what I do very rewarding.”

Dr Jackson professional interest areas are aged care, community-based palliative care, procedural skin work, and education, which she pursues via her role as a Medical Educator.

A typical week includes visiting patients at the local nursing home and independent living units, in-practice training for her staff, GP consulting at her practice, work on the business-side of her practice, and medical educator work, which includes external clinical training visits with GMT registrars. She is also studying a Masters in Health Professional Education via James Cook University.

“In my role as a Medical Educator with GMT, I have many meetings with registrars throughout the year to discuss their training requirements and progression through the training program, accreditation assessments of training practices, and ongoing meetings with practices and supervisors to discuss training requirements.  One of the great joys of my work with GMT is working with other people who are passionate about general practice and providing quality education to training registrars.”

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