The Rural Clinical School of WA

Dr Russ Hartley

GP & RCS Medical Co-ordinator, Busselton

The RCS year was definitely better than I expected it to be ... everywhere we worked we were considered a valued part of the teams.

Russ Hartley had an advantage over others weighing up whether to embark on a Rural Clinical Year – some years before, his older brother was among the pilot group for the School, so he had an idea of what to expect.

But it turned out to be even better than his expectations, ultimately setting his path in medicine.

Russell HartleyRuss Hartley had an advantage over others weighing up whether to embark on a Rural Clinical Year – some years before, his older brother was among the pilot group for the School, so he had an idea of what to expect.

But it turned out to be even better than his expectations, ultimately setting his path in medicine.

“It was a brilliant experience which changed my outlook on my career choices and what I wanted to do, where I wanted to work,” Russ says.

“The whole experience was amazing. What stood out, apart from the quality of the teaching we had, was the passion that our teachers had – the teaching effort they put into us we had never seen before.

“Everywhere we worked we were considered a valued part of the teams.

“If you were sitting with a GP you were often seeing patients by yourself, side by side with the GP. If you were in emergency department you were getting to do suturing, put plasters on and clerking patients yourself, doing all the history and investigations and management.

“Through all of the aspects of what we were doing we were considered a valued member of the team, rather than being a medical student who was there and who had to be looked after.

“It was exposure to something completely different to what you experienced in your first years of medicine. Back then it was done in our fifth year, so we would have four years of being in the city and the big hospitals."

“Getting out of that city hospital environment, getting out to the country and having more ‘one on one’ teaching was something completely different to what we had experienced in the city. That was definitely a major advantage of it.”

Russ’s RCS year confirmed his passion for the lifestyle that a career in rural and regional health care can enable. He had chosen the iconic goldfields town of Kalgoorlie (where his brother had also done his RCS year) to be with university mates who were going there, and to enjoy the social aspects so much a hallmark of country life.

Signing up to the local sporting clubs instantly provided a new group of friends with whom they could socialise and enhance their experience.

And it was from sport that Russ carries an indelible memory relating to his medical training in Kalgoorlie … an incident that brings a smile as much as a memory.

“One of the other students and I were playing hockey and he, accidentally of course, cut open the head of one of the other players. When the game finished and we drove down to the emergency department to see how this guy was, they were waiting for us. They made my mate stitch him up.

“That has always stuck in my mind because I thought it was such a unique country town experience where we did the injury, we fixed it, and the guy who had the injury was happy that the guy who had caused it had to stitch him up.”

Now working as a GP in a local clinic in coastal Busselton, with his wife (also at the clinic and training to be a GP) and two little boys aged 2 years and 3 months, Russ is also a Medical Co-ordinator with the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia, teaching medical students undergoing their RCS year in the town.

While he may have been born and raised in Perth, he and his wife do not foresee a return there.

“We are very much of the same mindset in terms of where we want to live and the sort of work we want to do. We are both very keen on being rural GPs. I think patients expect more from a rural GP; they don’t want to have to go to the city to see specialists and have everything done, so you end up doing more to stop your patients having to be referred on, and with a more varied and more exciting job.

“A lot of it is lifestyle, as well, and obviously Busselton has a pretty amazing lifestyle living on the beach."

“The longer I live here the more I am in contact with my patients in the community through sport or clubs we have joined or socialising. You see your patients out and about, in the street, and they want to stop and have a chat. I don’t think you get that in the city; so that’s a really nice part of it as well.”

 

 

 

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Last updated:
Thursday, 8 December, 2016 6:49 AM

http://www.rcs.uwa.edu.au/2944484