Loving the laid-backness

Loving the laid-backness

Gaining and retaining doctors in rural Victoria is no easy feat, so with Orbost Regional Health’s Dr Anthea Tan clocking up more than a decade in the town it’s something to be celebrated.

Born in Malayasia and moving to Melbourne to board and complete year 12 at MLC, Dr Tan went on to graduate medicine at University of Melbourne in 1998.

“But there were no jobs here at the time, so I had to go to England where I did my internship and training,” she said.

She had only meant to stay in England for a couple of years, but was there for nine.

“I can still remember the interview in late 2007 via Skype, with Anthea in Nottingham at the time,” clinic manager, Andrew Phillips, said.

“It was quite strange for all of us, it was all quite new, having to link in.”

“I love the ‘laid-backness’ of Australians, where they consider a slightly deviated career path something interesting and not something to be derided, something that builds character, not something that’s a failure,” Anthea said.

Opportunities that have come her way since arriving in Orbost have included further studies in anesthetics.

“She’s now a GP anesthetist, which are quite difficult to maintain in rural areas,” Andrew said.

“With a doctor leaving (in 2012) there was a great need for this town to have a GP anesthetist.

“To effectively be able to run an operating theatre you need a GP anesthetist, and there are other things a GP anesthetist can do in terms of pain management and that type of thing, and we didn’t have one. It was a big gap in our service.”

Anthea has also grown into a senior clinician role in the organisation.

In looking back at her ‘greenhorn’ days, Anthea said, “I was fresh out of GP school. I had years of training as a hospital doctor, doing general medicine, but in ‘GPland’ we’re specialists, generalists”.

“You really do have to know a little bit of everything,” Anthea said.

“And the advantage of being in the country is that you’re not just handballing to specialists because there is no specialist nearby. You manage the patient. You start the initial treatment.”

Anthea attributes much of her being able to keep on top of things to the ORH nurses.

“I probably would have quit a long time ago if it wasn’t for our nurses,” she said.

Ten years is a long time for a doctor to call a regional town home.

“I think it’s a testament to the town that they’ve had doctors coming, intending to stay for one or two years, and staying for the rest of their lives,” Anthea said.

Information technology played a part in Anthea taking on Orbost with her Skype interview and it plays a big role in keeping her there.

“As long as I’ve got the internet I’m good,” she said.

“When I get home from work I log out from real life.?

“That’s what’s allowed me to stay here. If I wasn’t a geek I don’t think I could have lasted. It can be very isolating.”

Picture: Dr Anthea Tan has lived and worked in Orbost for more than a decade. She loves the ‘laid-backness’ of Australia and appreciates the support she has received from both her colleagues and the local community.


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