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5 April 2022

Be there for Emerald: Dr Natalia Anderson

Be there for Emerald: Dr Natalia Anderson

Be there for the opportunities, be there for the locals. Be there for rural Queensland towns like Emerald.

Emerald, the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Queensland’s central-west. For decades, many have flocked to the outback region in search of precious gems. Now, there’s a new opportunity that’s attracting attention, and it’s contributing to the growing population and a vibrant community.

Emerald is fast becoming recognised for its outstanding health facilities and training opportunities. For junior doctors like Dr Natalia Anderson, the town has been the perfect place to pursue a career in general practice.

“You've got supervisors and bosses who want you to excel and will get you really involved doing procedural skills,” the second-year JCU GP Registrar says. “It motivates you to stay here because it is such a supportive environment to learn and develop as a doctor.

“It’s not competitive between registrars like it can be in metropolitan hospitals. No one is left behind in terms of meeting your training requirements and getting your procedural skills time.

“I think the social side of life in Emerald has been another bonus in terms of making us want to stay here. You work together and you socialise together. It helps increase the morale and the ability to work well and efficiently.”

The opportunities Emerald offers have extended to Natalia’s partner, Grant, who made the move to Emerald for Natalia’s training. In doing so, Grant was able to achieve his dream of opening his own business as an exercise physiologist.

“As health professionals, you can feel that the community is very keen to keep us here,” Dr Anderson says. “We’ve seen this in how people have supported Grant’s exercise physiology business. He’ll be based at the Emerald Medical Group Practice where I’ll be starting the GP side of my training. This opportunity has helped go a long way in getting us to seriously think about setting down roots here in Emerald.”

The community in and around Emerald are all about finding opportunities and making the most of them. Tyler Brown returned to the region to carry on the family business, Rubyvale Gem Gallery, with his brother Mitch. They’re expanding his father’s gem business with a brewery and holiday accommodation.

“We’re trying to encourage young people to come out here. For us, it’s about constantly reinvesting in the community. When businesses grow, it’s going to bring more opportunities for employment and younger, skilled workers who see an opportunity out here and a really good lifestyle.”

Tyler Brown, Rubyvale Gem Gallery, The Gemfields

It’s a sentiment echoed by locals across the Emerald community, like Alexandria Galea, from Cotton Growers Service, who grew up in Emerald on her family’s cotton and grains irrigation farm.

“There’s a really good sense of community here in Emerald,” Alexandria says. “That’s what drew me back home for work and to want to stay here. It’s the kind of town where people rally behind you if things aren’t going well. That’s not something you get in a lot of other places and it’s a phenomenal experience. It's very humbling.”

Growing up in Emerald, Alexandria says she’s seen and felt the need for more doctors to work and train in the region.

“It can be hard accessing care out here. At the moment, I can’t get an appointment at the doctor for anything general. You look online and can’t find an appointment so you put it in the too-hard basket. Our health is our responsibility, but the system isn’t making it easier either.

“To have more GPs in Emerald would make a really big difference. It would enable people here to easily go to the same doctor, build that trust and actually be proactive about their health.”

Alexandria Galea, Cotton Growers Service – Central Queensland, Emerald

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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