Dr Mahbuba Shampa is undertaking GP training at the Goonellabah Medical Centre as part of a pilot program to encourage city doctors to move to the bush.
Dr Mahbuba Shampa is undertaking GP training at the Goonellabah Medical Centre as part of a pilot program to encourage city doctors to move to the bush. David Nielsen

Doctor trials life as country GP

IN SCIENTIFIC terms, junior doctor Mahbuba Shampa is a guinea pig.

She is the first doctor to come to the Northern Rivers as part of a pilot program to not only encourage medical graduates to specialise in general practice, but also to work and live in regional and rural areas.

“Before I have to decide if I want to specialise in general practice next year, I wanted to be sure this is what I want to do,” Dr Shampa explained yesterday.

“One of the difficulties in working in a hospital is you are only one small part (of a team), so you never know what happens to the patient in the end.”

Junior doctors from Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital regularly come to Lismore Base Hospital as part of their training.

However, because they are only exposed to specialists such as surgeons, few contemplate a career in the ‘less glamorous’ world of general practice.

Yet for the past two weeks Dr Shampa, who was trained in Bangladesh and has spent the past three years in Sydney, has been treating patients at Goon- ellabah Medical Centre.

“It’s quite different from hospital,” she said. “When I started out I would only see two patients every hour and they were for quite simple things. Now I am seeing three an hour and they are more complicated.

“It’s more or less what I ex- pected, but I didn’t expect to see so many complex cases in a general practice.

“The thing I find interesting is there are so many mental health issues here.”

With her husband still in Sydney Dr Shampa was reluctant to say whether she would return to the Northern Rivers to work after she completes her training, but said she was almost certain to go into general practice somewhere.


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