In the spotlight is a new series highlighting local unsung heroes in the community who might otherwise go unseen in the course of every day life.
Intern doctor Judith Keith may just be starting out, but she has big dreams to tackle mental health issues in rural remote areas.
She is set on becoming a rural GP, a profession which requires a depth of skills in supporting the often complex needs of rural communities.
Weeks into her Katherine medical rotation she is already seeing the challenges many patients face in a remote location.
“At a smaller hospital you don’t have access to all of the usual technology. For example CT scans are off site, so it makes you think more carefully about whether you really need to do a certain investigation,” Ms Keith said.
But the idea of working in rural remote areas as a GP was established and set at very young age.
Born in Alice Springs, Ms Keith is no stranger to the complexities of remote living and is keen help as a medical practitioner.
“It is an interesting way to develop your skills, especially at the beginning of your career,” Ms Keith said.
“You get a wide range of experiences and see a bit of everything in a rural area.
“Whereas in a bigger hospital in the city you might be in a more specialised area and you will see a lot of one or two different things,” she said.
And rural GPs are in high demand right now, she said.
“We know there are not enough rural GPs in Australia.
“There is currently a lot of work going on in creating programs to training people so they can be generalists working in rural areas.
“I think it is a great job for someone who likes a lot of variety in their work and perhaps wants something a little more adventurous than living in a bigger city,” she said.
The intern doctor will be doing further training with Rural and Remote Nursing College soon, and is looking into advancing her skills in mental health and Indigenous health.
For Ms Keith, a typical day starts at 8am with a hand over.
“There is a doctor that works overnight and they provide a hand over for new patients. [We discuss new] issues with any of the patients over night.
“Then we go on a ward round, we catch up with all of our patients and find out how they are going, review any tests they have had or investigations and work out what our plan is for them.
“When we’ve seen all of our patients there are a variety of jobs that we do; we make sure our patients have their medication or if they are having intravenous drugs we make sure they have a drip in place.
“When people leave the hospital it is really important that we communicate with their care providers outside of the hospital, we write discharge summaries, so there is also quite a big paperwork component to my day.
“After work, I live on campus so that is pretty convenient, and it depends on the day, but I love to go out to the Gorge and Edith Falls or catch a film at the Katherine Film Society.
“The patients are my favourite part of my day, talking to them and finding out about their story.
“Especially when so many of our patients have been in or around Katherine for a long time, I enjoy finding out about where they are from and understanding a little more about them as a person as well as their health problems.”
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