RDAA CEO Peta Rutherford

Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) CEO Peta Rutherford says Australia’s rural doctors are suited to Rocketship Pacific helping provide primary health care education and training in the Pacific in remote, family, emergency and other medical education.

Peta Rutherford said that RDAA first became aware of Rocketship when RDAA members brought it to the association’s attention that rural doctors represented the ideal medical practice model for work in the Pacific healthcare.

“To see Rocketship promoting rural generalism beyond the borders of Australia and supporting that training in Pacific nation communities is commendable and certainly something we value and want to support,” she said.

Peta Rutherford said that Australia’s rural generalist doctors have the clinical skills in relation to primary care, as well as their area of advanced skill, such as emergency medicine, anaesthetics, obstetrics, mental health, paediatrics… whatever it might be.”

She says that’s because Australian rural doctors have well-rounded and high skills and are “trained to work in environments where not all resources are available.”

What’s more, she said, while rural doctors understand their limitations, a lot of rural doctors have clinical courage.
“It is really interesting that a lot of rural doctors have understanding and competence, but they will also make some tough decisions that may actually save people’s lives where they’re the only doctor on site and it’s really up to them to make that life-or-death decision at that time.

They will seek guidance from their specialist colleagues in larger centres and use technology where they can but show clinical courage with insight to their own level of competence.”

She said that many rural doctors also have experience in providing education, supervision, and support in medical training. “People that learn under rural doctors highly value the experience.”

“It’s the first time they actually felt like a doctor…
Peta says rural doctors have a strong commitment to community, which is expressed through many aspects of service that include services like aged care, or a commitment to after-hours service to their patients. She said that tradition of community involvement that rural doctors embrace is usually more than is typical of their urban colleagues.

“It is a highly valuable workforce and certainly one that deserves recognition and support, and their commitment to healthy community is strong,” Peta Rutherford said.

The payoff for that commitment, Rutherford said, is best described by something that a rural doctor once told her.

“I have heard one of our members talk about sub-specialists in capital cities only get a small slither of a cake, whereas a rural generalist gets the whole cake – plus the icing!”
She said that’s why she believes that many young doctors, on having experienced rural medicine will often say, “it’s the first time they actually felt like a doctor.”