Challenging and Rewarding Medicine | Meet Dr Cristina Valero
I always thought I’d specialise in anaesthetics – until I did my hospital placement in Jamestown and Peterborough (now Goyder’s Line) and fell in love with rural medicine.
This early exposure secured my interest in general practice – without it, I wouldn’t have considered rural GP.
Originally from the city, I’m now a practising GP at Tanunda Medical Centre as well as a Clinical Lecturer at the University of Adelaide and a Medical Education Fellow at GPEx. Rural medicine is challenging and rewarding, combining hospital and general practice settings.
Over my short time in GP, I have had exposure to a wide variety of clinical experience. The unique nature of rural GP means that I have been able to start developing skills across medicine and surgery, from assessing and treating trauma patients to surgical assisting to chronic disease management. This variety and independence is hard to find in other specialties.
While I gain much job satisfaction supporting my patients through their journey, it’s also about the nature of the workplace. I’ve been privileged to forge strong friendships with my colleagues along the way. GPEx supports its registrars with quality placements and high-standard medical educators and supervisors, and makes a direct impact by placing us in the rural communities where we are needed most.
This placement and exposure aims to encourage registrars to stay in rural settings beyond their fellowship, representing a long-term investment for strong community gains.
As a registrar I felt supported, and that GPEx was in tune with our needs. The GPEx team responded to our requests, took our suggestions seriously and had good communication processes in place.
Meanwhile, my supervisors encouraged me to be an engaged and active worker, treated me and other registrars as equals and took a real interest in our education.
My message to medical graduates is: “Rural general practice is challenging and rewarding. Don’t rule it out, try it for yourself and get as much exposure before choosing your specialty as you can.”