Dr Katie Gardner is happy to be back in a regional centre.
Dr Katie Gardner is happy to be back in a regional centre. Contributed

My story: I love being a GP in a small town

WHEN I graduated from high school on the Fraser Coast, becoming a doctor with a paediatric specialty was a career I admired, but not one that I planned to immediately pursue.

After completing Year 12, a love of mathematics led me to study economics at university in Brisbane.

While I enjoyed the challenge of university, I soon realised that economics was not for me and after a year abroad I returned to undertake medical studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery in 2008.

A lot has happened since then but becoming a doctor has easily been the most rewarding, humbling and challenging decision I have ever made.

Paediatrics is a field I've always been interested in. I enjoy working with children and young adults and witnessing the progress made with the right medical care.

After graduation, I spent three years at Mater Health Services and Mater Children's Hospital in Brisbane, where I first began working in this area.

In 2012 I took on a year-long New Zealand placement in hospital general paediatrics and neonatal intensive care and since then I have worked as a locum paediatric registrar in numerous regional hospitals throughout Queensland and NSW.

In addition to hospitals, I have also worked in the immigration detention centre on Christmas Island and in detention centres across Australia.

As a general medical officer on Christmas Island, I was involved in refugee health screening, infectious disease management, chronic disease management and acute medicine.

Working on "CI" was both interesting and rewarding. The remote, fast-paced and rapidly changing environment meant that no two days were the same and I never knew what type of case would walk through the door.

It was incredibly fulfilling to work with men, women and children from diverse geographic and cultural backgrounds, many of whom had previously had limited access to medical care.

Working in a remote environment with somewhat limited resources meant that we often had to think outside the square.

Teamwork was exceptionally important and it was great to experience the strong collegial spirit that existed amongst the medical team on the island.

Originally from Hervey Bay, I am excited to return to my roots and join the team in Eumundi at Ochre Health Medical Centre as a General Practitioner, with a special interest in paediatrics, public health, antenatal care and chronic disease management.

Resources in smaller regional communities are more limited when compared to the bigger cities, and I feel passionate about helping locals gain access to the services they need.

I'm looking forward not only to my 10-minute drive to work along quiet country roads, but the chance to again be "one of the locals".

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