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21 February 2024

Home away from home in the Tropics

Home away from home in the Tropics

The Tropical Far North is an idyllic place for a working holiday, which was the kind of experience Dr Ana Liddie Navarro had in mind when she travelled over from the United Kingdom. Fast forward eight years and Dr Liddie Navarro is still in Cairns, recently fellowed, embracing the barmy weather and loving a job that she had never even considered doing. 

Dr Liddie Navarro completed her medical training back home in the United Kingdom (UK) before deciding to do a year abroad as a Resident Medical Officer, working in hospital settings in Townsville and then Cairns.   

“I’d never been to Australia,  but wanted to try working in a completely different setting with what I had heard was a very interesting mix of work.  Australia is unique with its Aboriginal and Torres Strait I Islander communities. You also get tropical diseases that we don’t get in cold and cloudy England!” 

Three years in the region was enough to motivate Dr Liddie Navarro to stay in Cairns to pursue a career in general practice. As part of her training, she worked at an Aboriginal Medical Service, a private general practice, and the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS). 

“Doing your training in the Far North, you are more likely to have a very broad understanding of more health issues. It’s interesting and rewarding, and it’s great professionally because you’re building a skillset that really I think enables you to work anywhere.” 

Dr Liddie Navarro fellowed in July 2023. While she was unsure what to do after training, it was the advice of one her JCU Medical Educators that prompted Dr Navarro to apply for a job with the RFDS. 

“It wasn’t actually something I was considering until that conversation, but it’s turned out to be a fantastic decision, one of the best ones I’ve made!  

“The RFDS is a fantastic place to work and it can be quite varied! One day you’re doing Tropical and Indigenous health in  Cape York, the next you might be out West doing  more classic general practice work but with very advanced in disease on presentation, and a huge burden of chronic disease.” 

Her work with the RFDS has also given Dr Liddie Navarro the chance to see vast stretches of beautiful Australian scenery that starkly contrasts the scenery back home. 

“It’s certainly better than a windowless room in a GP practice! You see everything from the beautiful rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef to the dramatic scenery of the Outback. It gives you a sense of the distances people must cover to receive healthcare,” Ana says. 

The laid-back tropical lifestyle has been one of the main things keeping Ana in her home away from home. 

“The humidity takes some getting used to but most of the time it's wonderful living up here! I like waterfall swimming, snorkelling, hiking, and heading over to Fitzroy Island. There’s plenty to do.” 

“When I came out here it was only meant to be for a year, but it’s ended up being eight years and counting. The lifestyle has been a big part of what’s kept us here; it is pretty special!” 

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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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