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1 July 2022

Pieces fall into place during internship

American Dr Curtis Wong says his intern year at Mackay Base Hospital in 2021 was a lucky convergence of circumstances.

The combination of a tight intern cohort, great work environment and enjoyable rotations made it easy for Dr Wong to stay on in the regional North Queensland city in postgraduate year two.

Dr Wong is from Pleasanton, a small town near San Francisco. He did a hybrid degree with the University of Queensland Ochsner Clinical School in which American medical students spend their first two years in Brisbane and their final two years in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“Most students from my program choose to match back in the States. But I ended up liking Australia, so I came back,” he says. “I decided to do most of my fourth year in Australia, then managed to get an internship spot and landed in Mackay.

“The hospital environment has been really good. I prefer smaller hospitals to begin with, and it’s a nice, close-knit sort of place. Everyone knows each other. You meet all of the registrars, they know you, and you know your consultants.

“I lucked out, and we had a very tight intern cohort. We had a big friend group right off the bat and everyone just really gelled very well. Medical Workforce was excellent. They took care of us and a lot of us were able to do rotations that we really wanted to do."

“For example, I really was keen on obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) and had a great time last year in the O&G department. I was able to do a lot as an intern that I don't necessarily know I would have been able to do at another site, and they were keen to have me back as well. And I always had very kind and gracious patients.”

A doting ‘greyhound uncle’ to his housemates’ adopted dog, Hughie, Dr Wong enjoys the lifestyle Mackay offers.

“Mackay has a relaxed, small-town vibe, which I really like,” he says. “I wasn’t expecting it to be such a beach town, to be honest – I thought it was just going to be pure sugarcane.

“I'm planning on staying next year to do more time in O&G and hope to eventually apply for the program. I’ll have to change hospitals at some point before that can happen, but I'd love to come back to Mackay and work as a registrar one day.”

NQRTH connects medical students, intern and junior doctors with a network of opportunities and resources designed to create a supportive and clear path to specialist (including general practice) training, and beyond, in our regions. Our network works together to strengthen medical specialist training with the view to build a health workforce prepared to meet the health needs of our regional and rural communities in Cairns, Central West, Mackay, North West, Torres and Cape, and Townsville. NQRTH is facilitated by James Cook University, who partner with hospital and health services and training providers to create a connected career pathway beginning at the medical undergraduate level right through to fellowship.

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
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Torres and Cape region
(07) 4095 6103

Townsville region
(07) 4781 3424