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Continuity of care is king for JCU GP Registrar

13th June 2018

James Cook University (JCU) Medicine graduate, GP Registrar and Rural Generalist Trainee Dr Josephine Pearson knows the importance of continuity of care in rural communities.

She said rural doctors have the unique opportunity to provide their patients with care from the beginning to end, something which isn’t easily achieved in larger centres.  

“It is enjoyable to be involved in the ‘health journey’ of patients and their families, whether it be the birth of a child, death of a loved one, or during acute illness and recovery and rehabilitation,” said Dr Pearson.

Providing continuity of care to patients helps the patient towards a more positive health outcome.  “Within a small community, you develop rapport and therapeutic relationships with people from all walks of life, and have a positive impact on their health,” said Dr Pearson.

“Continuity of care is further enhanced by working within a small and dedicated medical team, who are able to easily communicate and share knowledge and information of significant health events and/or specialist directives,” said Dr Pearson.

The small town of St George has been home for Dr Pearson for the past sixteen months where she works at the local hospital, GP practice and remote outreach clinic in Bollon. “I love having the opportunity to serve my rural community across both the hospital and GP settings, and the continuity of care this affords patients,” said Dr Pearson.  

Dr Pearson enjoys the relationships and strong bonds she has formed with patients through clinical practice and everyday interaction within the community. “It is satisfying and indeed a privilege, to be able to help patients at times of need, and later see the positive impact you’ve had on their lives,” said Dr Pearson.

The diversity of clinical practice is what attracted Dr Pearson to rural medicine. “I thoroughly enjoy practising across a wide range of clinical settings including ED, obstetrics and other hospital-based services, primary care, and remote outreach clinics,” said Dr Pearson.

For a small town of approximately 3,000 people, Dr Pearson said she comes across a lot of patients with rare and interesting conditions in St George. “We see a high proportion of Q fever and other zoonotic illnesses, as well as motor bike and livestock related accidents,” Dr Pearson said.

It’s not only the diverse clinical practice that Dr Pearson finds rewarding. “It’s the relaxed lifestyle of living in the picturesque ‘bush’ setting on the banks of the Balonne,” said Dr Pearson. In her spare time Dr Pearson enjoys boating, jet skiing and swimming, as well as taking in the natural scenery whilst walking along the river.

Dr Pearson loves the friendly, close knit community with various community events on offer. She said she attends the local festivals, park runs, hospital social events, the annual show, triathlons and local markets.  “I also attended Weengallon Pink Ladies Day, a charity day held annually in a small community about halfway between Goondiwindi and St George, which raises money for breast and prostate cancer.”

Although at times it can be challenging living and working in a rural community, it is extremely rewarding said Dr Pearson. “My frequent on call schedule, and isolation from friends and family can be difficult at times.  However, the bonds and relationships formed with my colleagues and within the community are unique.”

The difference Dr Pearson is making in the community is what makes her job worthwhile. “Knowing that I make a positive impact on the lives of patients within our community on a daily basis is very rewarding,” said Dr Pearson.

When reflecting on her time before rural medicine, Dr Pearson said that living and working in a remote location has been better than she expected. “I never anticipated learning from and working within such an amazing and supportive medical team, who have become far more than just work colleagues,” said Dr Pearson. “I would most definitely recommend rural medicine to others!”

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