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28 March 2022

Be There for Cloncurry: Dr Emma Gillmore

Be There for Cloncurry: Dr Emma Gillmore

Be there for the scope of practice, be there for the continuity of care, be there for Queensland towns like Cloncurry.

The small northwest town of Cloncurry stretches just a few kilometres along the Barkly Highway, an hour and a half out from Mount Isa. But don’t let its size fool you. Cloncurry is a growing and diverse community with some of the friendliest locals you’ll meet in your life.

Cloncurry is also a place where junior doctors are discovering a rich and rewarding career as general practitioners. Dr Emma Gillmore, GP and Senior Medical Officer moved to Cloncurry in 2020 with her husband and two young daughters to commence GP training through James Cook University’s program for registrars.

“There's a really strong community spirit in Cloncurry. I think there’s a palpable difference being in Cloncurry compared to a lot of other places. There is a really strong sense of unity,” Dr Gillmore says.

From a clinical perspective, Dr Gillmore says Cloncurry offers a broad scope of practice and diverse patient caseload, which provides the perfect opportunity for junior doctors to fast-track their growth and competency.

“You see a lot of patients with significant chronic diseases that you wouldn't necessarily see in city areas. You manage everything out here. You manage strokes, heart attacks, car accidents, paediatric issues, gout, arthritis. You’re the rural GP, it’s up to you."

“There’s only a couple of us in town, so if you’re on call then whatever comes through the door you’re the doctor who handles it. The other day, a patient needed a lateral canthotomy, which is a really rare procedure. Another doctor and I performed the procedure, and it’s not something we would get the opportunity to do in a larger tertiary hospital setting,” Dr Gillmore says.

With plenty of long-term locals in Cloncurry, GPs have the opportunity to build strong doctor-patient relationships. It’s a facet of general practice that contributes to better health outcomes for patients and can also be incredibly rewarding for doctors, as Dr Gillmore has found.

“As a GP in Cloncurry, you manage every breadth and every facet of people’s health, both their mental and physical health.  It is very rewarding to be part of your patients’ journey through life and health care.

“You’re seeing a patient through pregnancy, then you’re caring for the child as well. That’s the whole point of rural generalism, that if you stay here long enough you get to be part of the generations of these families, which to me is amazing,” Dr Gillmore says.

Auxiliary Lieutenant Andrew Hobbs from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service moved to Cloncurry six years ago to pursue career opportunities. He’s seen and felt the impact of a doctor shortage in the region and summed up what it would mean to have more junior doctors choose to work and train in Cloncurry.

“We're a long way away from the metropolitan coast. The ability to have more doctors come out to be trained up here would be a big thing for Cloncurry. We're all one big community and to get a range of professionals out here training and practising their craft is important for developing the bush,” Lt Hobbs says.

“It's a great opportunity to do something different and get to know some great people. If you're new to town and you don't know anyone, head down to the pub and park yourself at the bar; you'll have some friends in no time!”

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.

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