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Moving to the country

The following blog is written by Dr Christie Bryant, a medical intern at Peninsula Health. 

Usually, the most noticeable thing about Mr Hope* is his long white Santa-esque beard. Today however, it is the steady trickle of blood from his left leg down into his shoe. I start our conversation the way I always do – “Hi Bill, my name’s Chris and I’ll be your doctor”. He mumbles a reply and we head into the consulting room.

Up on the bed, I clean his wound and get all the suturing gear together. I tell him it’s my first day down here and wonder if he thinks I’m just one of the many blow-in doctors that come and go all year round to a rural town like Wonthaggi.

In the days leading up to my first rural rotation in Wonthaggi I was feeling pretty nervous. Each rotation, around 6 interns from both Peninsula and Monash Health head down to Wonthaggi, a rural town on the Bass Coast. I knew people who had been before and enjoyed it but I also knew it would be very different to my experience in Frankston Emergency Department.

I worried that being a smaller hospital the patients and staff would see us as ‘the outsiders’ and it would feel as though we had just popped in to cause a bit of chaos only to leave 12 weeks later. I also knew that sometimes the only two doctors on shift were both juniors and I wondered if I was really up to the task.

Luckily, on the first two days most of my worries dissolved as we met the admin officers and the head of the department who made us feel welcome, saying that while we were there we should consider ourselves part of the family, telling us they loved having new faces and fresh minds to add to the mix.

The first few days were a bit stressful, but all of my patients were very understanding when I told them I’d just come out here, having been in Frankston most of the year. They all wanted to know was I staying in Wonthaggi or driving, and worried that I shouldn’t drive home after a long day at work.

Everyone has their own bit of advice for good coffee and food and which beaches are the best in summer. Bill, who’s back to having beard as his most notable feature now, tells me the guy that used to run the coffee van in the parking lot has now set up permanently in the hospital so there’s finally a steady stream of caffeine to be had.

A week in and I’m feeling more at ease, the friendly staff and patients have made the transition pretty smooth. I’m also looking forward to some warmer weather in which to enjoy the gorgeous beaches the Bass Coast has on offer.

*Names have been changed.


Christie Bryant.