I was lucky to have my rural GP placement in Swansea on the east coast. The GP clinic is part of the May Shaw Health, which included the aged care facility, 6 subacute beds and an emergency room, as well as other community services.
The practice is run by a husband and wife team who are both great practical doctors. They were fantastic mentors, allowing us to see patients by ourselves, practice procedural skills and assess emergency patients. While the emergency was not very busy while we were there we had a few interesting cases including a suspected pulmonary embolus and a nail through a thumb.
Having a five week placement allowed us to understand the community better and gave us a chance to see a patients’ journey, which we often don’t get on shorter placements. It was especially interesting seeing a couple of patients who presented with interesting neurological symptoms, who were sent for scans and then had several follow up appointments over our placement.
I was sent along as the first aid officer to an activities day for East Coast kids aged 10-16. This was great fun but I was glad there were no injuries as the activities included archery, hatchet throwing, sling shot and air rifle shooting.
The community was friendly and most patients where very happy to have medical students. We also benefited from the culinary skills of one patient who delivered morning tea every Friday morning.
We also saw the social implications of practicing in a small town. One of the doctors was threatened by a patient, which resulted in the police coming. But rather than bar the patient from the practice, he must call ahead so the police can be available if he requires medical attention. We were often filled in on the background story of patients or the side of things they weren’t telling by the GP who often picked up extra information from relatives or town gossip.
This was a great and enjoyable placement, which allowed me to develop my skills and mature more as a future doctor, I’d encourage anyone to try and get a placement here (but try and go in the summer!)