In 2017 Dr Susan Lumsdaine joined RWAV’s locum program. She began in Traralgon, and most recently was contracted to work in Walwa, Victoria. The small, rural community is home to a solo general practitioner (GP) practice within a purpose-built facility situated within the Walwa Bush Nursing Centre. The practice uses a rotation of locum RWAV GPs as a permanent model. Dr Lumsdaine has already rebooked to work with them again for next year. RWAV caught up with Dr Lumsdaine about her locum position in Walwa to ask her about how the experience is going and what she’s learned.
Why did you want to engage in the locum program?
I was at the point where I wanted to retire but wasn’t quite ready to stop being a GP. Locum work gives me the flexibility to work when I want, rather than being required to turn up each week. The flexibility is the biggest advantage. Now my husband and I get to travel to different places, meet the locals and get to know communities. I wanted to have the freedom to pick and choose when I worked. I liked the idea of supporting rural GPs and rural communities, as well as having the opportunity to travel while I work. Prior to joining the GP locum program, I was working in rural general practice in northern NSW. I have a background in the Australian Army, with 14 years as a doctor working in Australia and on deployments.
Tell me about your most recent experience in Walwa. Are there any disadvantages?
The disadvantages are just like those you experience when you start a new job: getting to know how the computer system works, knowing who the medical specialists are that you can refer to or call upon when required.
Was it what you expected?
It’s been delightful. A part of me wants to keep it a secret to stop too many people from going there! It’s an amazingly vibrant small community. The practice is well run, and I received great support from the nursing and administrative staff. One of the interesting twists is that it is a dispensing practice so the GP functions as the pharmacist too. This is unique, probably the only one in Victoria. My impression is that the Bush Nursing Centre is the core of the community. When the Bush Nursing Hospital closed, the community lobbied to keep a health and community facility going. Meals on Wheels meals are cooked in the kitchen, there’s a community function room, a credit union office, a community radio broadcasting room, a conference room and a gym that is used daily.
Would you recommend the locum program to other GPs?
I would certainly recommend RWAV’s program to any GP who is happy to travel away from home and wants the flexibility of choosing when they work. Being with RWAV gives you a lot of support in these flexible arrangements. You don’t have to worry about negotiating the contracts yourself. Working with an agency gives support, assistance with travel and information on what’s required in the role.