Published by GPEx on May 3, 2019

Putting your best self forward in a new rural community

Rural and Remote training can often seem like a daunting challenge – especially as young women. Not only do we need to get our heads around a new job, but move away from our base support networks of family and friends and potentially take on the demanding on-call roll.

Further challenges arise with acclimatising ourselves into a close-knit community, with the added barrier of our patient-doctor relationship putting limitations on our social lives – once you’ve cervical screened someone it’s not quite the same bumping into them at the supermarket.

What follows is a brief list of suggestions to help integrate yourself into a new community, and get the most out of your training and share your best self.

Sporting Clubs

The most common answer you’ll receive if you ask the question “how do I fit in?”. Joining the local sporting clubs is a winner, whether it be netball, hockey or tennis club, you’re sure to meet a lot of the locals. Understandably sport is not everyone’s cup of tea, however keep in mind, there are lots of ways to be involved with the clubs whilst avoiding ever coming into contact with a ball, a racket, a stick or even owning a pair of sport shoes! Being the sports-doctor on field on the day, helping out with the social club events, doing a few games with the score sheet or a shift in the canteen are all great ways to get involved.

Talk to your practice colleagues

Hidden treasures, like boot camps, community events, town traditions and fundraisers pop up all the time – and the best people to ask about what’s coming up are your practice colleagues. Some towns have also re-vamped the Country Women’s Association (CWA) meetings which have drawn in a much younger crowd, and are a great way to meet new people.

Stay around on weekends

We all have family, commitments, partners and social lives back in the city. Unfortunately, jumping in your car and speeding back to town every Friday night is not only exhausting, but ensures you segregate yourself from the community as you tend to miss out on fun weekend events. Do your best to have your friends and family come and visit you in your new home, share your new surrounds and community with them so they can share your journey. And try to catch up with other registrars in your area too, you’ll be great support to each other.

Children-friendly groups

Swimming groups, Mum’s and Bub classes, coffee mornings – most regional towns will have these or something similar, and for those with young children it can be an easy way to integrate yourself and meet other parents outside of the school-pick up times.

This is not an exhaustive list, but you are encouraged to ask around, and find something you enjoy doing outside of work. Rural training can be challenging, but it also offers big rewards, and often feeling supported by integrating yourself will make the difference between just a training year and an exceptional one.

Best of Luck

Dr Cristina Valero, GP Registrar and RLO