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30 November 2013

I haven't written recently. But then again, neither has Shakespeare...

I realized today that the last post I (Barb) put up was in October, and so much stuff has happened!

After coming back from Canada in July, I was posted to do a Rural term in Bowen, QLD. That's 2.5 hr drive north of Mackay, or 12.5 hr drive north of Brisbane.  It's famous for mangoes, being a WW2 airforce base, and being the set of the movie "Australia".  Rob had to stay home and mind his job and the cats. It was lonely, but also good experience- The hospital was small enough that I had duties in both the ward and emergency.  And small enough that I was a needed pair of hands and gained all sorts of experience.

 One thing that was pretty neat was that the kitchen served meals flavoured with herbs grown right outside the kitchen door!

 Another regular occurrence was emergency air-lifting patients to a bigger centre, such as Mackay to the South, or Townsville, to the North. The helipad was about 25m from my bedroom, and the odd time gave me a heart attack as it was landing at 2 in the morning.

Rob came up and I went back down to Mackay as often as possible.
Then I moved on to one of the toughest rotations in intern year: Surgery. And it WAS tough. But I was lucky enough to be part of a great junior doctor team, and we managed to get through together.

Another story that has been evolving since April is my attempt to get onto ACRRM (Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine) training for next year. Not having overcome some of my student tendencies, I put off my application until the last week. THEN I found out that as a sponsored work visa holder, I needed letters of support from every training provider (there are 19) that I wished to apply for. A scramble of emails later (I like to think of that as the collective noun for emails), I had managed to obtain only one, from QRME (Queensland Rural Medical Education). Fortunately, this was the group I was hoping to work with anyway.  I then needed to do the exams set out by AGPT, which involved situational judgement tests and multiple mini exam stations, times 8. The closest set were being held in Townsville, but would commence 2 days after I had left the country for Canada.  So I ended up in Toowoomba. This was great, as I got to see some Brisbane friends and stay with my good friend Anna while there.  Exams were done....flight to Edmonton undertaken. While in Edmonton, I got an email from AGPT asking for more paperwork, which was still in Mackay... and a transcript from UQ. This is where things got troublesome. UQ normally has an online request format for transcripts. However the server was down, and they were not accepting calls or emails with requests. By the time they repaired the problem and responded, they missed my needed deadline....and so my application was scrapped, and I needed to begin again the following April, from scratch, including repeating the exams.  I was "very put out."  THEN I got an email from AGPT that they were opening up second round offers. My transcript had limped in by this point, so I was eligible to try again. Gladly!  I had a Skype interview which started off with "We thought you'd be in the first round of offers??!!" So I was pretty confident I might get a spot. And in a few days received my acceptance!! So thrilled that God turned this set of events into something good!  I still have one hospital based year to complete to get all the ACRRM prerequisites, and Mackay Base Hospital has renewed my contract for the coming year.  So there is comfort in knowing where we will be for at least one more year.

Now I am based at Proserpine Hospital, fulfilling my Emergency Medicine term. It's interesting and broad based, with good support and consultants who are eager to teach. I also have 2 medical students following me around, so the cycle continues....

26 November 2013

Christmas decorating

So Christmas is now less than a month away.  Christmas music is beginning to be played in the shops and the decorations are coming out. It amuses me that Australians try to do the Winter Wonderland when it is 30°C outside.  They do also have more 'native' Christmas decorations with Kookaburras and Eucalyptus leaves.