“I really enjoyed the flying and travel. I found it a privilege to be up in the sky and out in the communities, and to walk around and meet and talk to people, go to the beach, go to the store and see what food they have the ridiculous prices they pay," Dr Vladcoff said.
“Mondays and Fridays were office days reserved for administration, checking results, writing reports, case discussions, forwarding referrals, supervision sessions and training.
"Tuesday was Milikapiti on Melville Island north of Darwin on Tiwi Islands. With the senior rural medical practitioner, I would fly out first thing in the morning and fly back late in the afternoon or early evening. When we landed a driver would come and pick us up and we would do the short drive to the clinic which was a really well managed. The Aboriginal health practitioners and remote area nurses kept the clinic running.
"Wednesday was Warruwi on South Goulburn Island with a different senior rural medical practitioner. They would hear the plane and come and get us. It was run a practice manager who was also a midwife and another RAN. The clinic services about 300 people with only two fulltime staff. This meant someone was on call every night.
Thursday was Daly River. Looking at the number of residents there and the numbers they really should have a full-time doctor at least two days a week. It was hard to keep up with everything and there were lots of high-priority recalls."
Trying to juggle training commitments and family life was what initially attracted Chris to the FIFO design.
“We are required to do a remote placement and Indigenous health training and this placement satisfied both of those requirements. It wouldn’t have worked to take the whole family to a remote placement so it was ideal to have that remote experience but still be Darwin based,” Dr Vladcoff said.
When asked about the challenges of FIFO Dr Vladcoff agreed the complexity of Indigenous health is challenging also the logistics of travel and working remotely were hard at times for him.
“There were logistical difficulties in getting referrals and access the specialists. Often patients needed to come into the city for investigation and there are difficulties associated with that,” Dr Vladcoff said.
Another challenge was the pressure of seeing all the patients in the short time he had at each clinic.
“The amount of actual time you have with the patients isn’t much. By the time you get there and get set up for the day, you have no more than five hours to do what you need to get done,” Dr Vladcoff said.
“I really enjoyed the flying and travel and found it a privilege to be up in the sky and out in the communities - and to walk around and meet and talk to people, go to the beach, go to the store and see what food they have the ridiculous prices they pay.
It was a really positive and rich experience that I would recommend."