The solution to finding a doctor that is happy living in Yass while working full time at the hospital isn’t an easy one.
Acting senior nurse manager Mary Smeaton said the hospital would love to have a local on hand for regular shifts.
“The bottom line is we need to grow our own,” Ms Smeaton said. “Throwing money at it isn’t going to fix it; it’s an issue to do with the whole person.”
She said gone were the days where the local GP would back up at the hospital overnight after a long day at work.
“It’s fair enough because most doctors work long hours, they put in around 80 hours a week,” Ms Smeaton said.
She said the demand on doctors was so great that they needed to be at the top of their game all the time.
The acting senior nurse manager said a regional posting was often hard on a doctor’s family.
“Doctors often have partners who are professional people and they have careers that they want to pursue as well.”
Dr Ray Burn agreed that the answer to rural doctor shortage was to support Yass Valley people through medical training.
“It’s the only way of getting doctors who really want to work in the country,” Dr Burn said. “All we’ve really got to do is nurture them.”
The doctor is proud there are three local people “in the pipeline” that would most likely be coming back to Yass to practice.
He said he would like to see a program run in conjunction with the schools in Yass to identify and support youth interested in medicine.
“We could be looking at what support we could give them… because you can starve to death before you’re making the big money,” he said.
He recognised the same lifestyle issues as Ms Smeaton, with doctors moving to follow a partner or for children’s education.
He said young doctors might be attracted to the exciting nightlife of bigger cities, while people from country areas would realise what it means to be a local.
“They’ve probably got family in the district, they’ve probably found a partner… they’re accustomed to the other things you find in the district.”
Dr Burn said it wasn’t just about bringing young people home either, he wanted to see more older people becoming mature aged medical students.
“It’s good to get locals because they’re probably so weathered to the district they can’t get away,” he joked.