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22 February 2024

An abundance of opportunity in regional Northern Queensland

An abundance of opportunity in regional Northern Queensland

Dr Emma-Lee May was set up for career success when she chose to do her internship and PGY2 at Mackay Base Hospital.  

“I absolutely love the hospital; it is so tailored to learning,” Dr May said. “The medical education unit here is really good. 

“You have the opportunity to be one-on-one with a consultant or a registrar and that really helps to build connection. 

“In a metropolitan place, you may be the fourth or fifth person in line to perform a procedure whereas, in a place like this, you are the person doing it.” 

As the referral hospital for the region, Mackay Base Hospital has a diverse mix of patient cases, Emma-Lee said.  

“I’ve always been that medical student who likes a bit of everything,” she said.  

“I just finished my rotation in the Emergency department (ED), and I like the versatility of cases. 

“The other day, I had a 101-year-old patient, and my next patient was a two-month-old.” 

In April, Dr May will be starting a role as a Senior House Officer (SHO) in the Anaesthetics and Intensive Care Units.  

She said, that working as an SHO in PGY2 is a testament to the career advancement opportunities available to doctors in the region. 

“There are so many opportunities that you may not get at a metropolitan hospital,” she said. 

“Junior House Officer (JHO) is usually the PGY2, and SHO is usually PGY3. 

“I've got a six-month SHO job in anaesthetics and a three-month SHO job in ICU.” 

Dr May attributes her career advancement to the strong relationships that she has built with her supervisors and senior clinicians. 

“When you work and live in a regional town, you get to know everyone,” she said. “I will walk past people in the hospital hallway, and I can say hello to all of them because I know all of them and I love that. 

“If you put in the work and you show that you’re genuine it really pays off because you build bonds with your colleagues and senior staff. 

“I think that is what has helped me progress rather fast in my career.” 

In the future, Dr Emma-Lee May is looking at pursuing specialty training in a critical care pathway. 

“My area of greatest interest is within the critical care field,” she said.  

“I really like looking after sick and vulnerable people. I like building that relationship and making them feel comfortable, listened to, and heard, treating them like you would if they were your family member. 

“Anaesthetics, ICU, and ED are probably the front runners for where I want to take my career.” 

Dr May said, that she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.  

“I am very established here, and I just love living here,” Emma-Lee said. “In terms of the lifestyle, it's really laid back, and there are some wonderful people in these areas.  

“The common denominator in these places is that people genuinely care about each other.  

“You don't have to know each other for someone to show you a random act of kindness, which is so lovely.” 

Mackay region

Find out more about training in Mackay and the specialty training pathways available to you.


NQRTH is an initiative of the Australian Government's Integrated Rural Training Pipeline (IRTP) and is facilitated by James Cook University in partnership with public and private hospitals, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), health services, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and GP clinics.

Cairns region
(07) 4226 8187

Central West region
(07) 4764 1547

Mackay region
(07) 4885 7122

North West region
(07) 4764 1547

Torres and Cape region
(07) 4095 6103

Townsville region
(07) 4781 3424