Dr Wendy Page has worked and supervised at Miwatj Health Centre for many years and continues to have an unwavering passion for what it means to be a GP supervisor in the Northern Territory. These are her insights into why remote health and supervision is so important.
What are the main differences in supervising in a remote setting in the NT compared to in a major city?
Smaller communities give a feeling that you can be part of an extended family. There are no traffic lights and perhaps an extra two hours in the day that might have otherwise been spent commuting in city traffic.
Who influenced you to become a GP supervisor?
Back in the 1980s I was a Family Medicine Program (FMP) trainee and I greatly appreciated the support I had from more experienced GPs – mentors, medical educators – I’m not sure if the term ‘supervisor’ was used then.
In 1984-85, I worked for two years in Tonga, and I was awarded six months' special skills from FMP. I greatly appreciated support from my medical educator in Sydney who corresponded by snail mail over my ‘self-directed learning plan’, reducing my sense of professional isolation.
In the early 1990s in the Miwatj region, Dr Sam Heard and Drs Max and Elizabeth Chalmers come to mind in encouraging Miwatj (and I) to take on GP registrars. Many GP registrars have come through Miwatj and have been a backbone to providing health services to the region. Some fellows have come back and contributed years to this region Dr Stephen Bryce, Dr Nick Tumman, Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, Dr Hung The Nguyen and Dr Penny Ramsay to name a few.
What motivates you to be a GP supervisor?
GP registrars are our future GPs and we have a responsibility to support the next generation, as the generation before has supported us.
What's your favourite part of being a GP supervisor?
The enthusiasm and openness to learning and commitment to providing the best health care we can is what I see in GP registrars.
What is your advice to a GP supervisor who may be interested in coming to a remote clinic?
Miwatj needs GP supervisors so that, in partnership with the community, we can work to close the gap in areas of need. The patients are our teachers and they have so much to teach us when we can hear their stories and support their journey for improved health outcomes.
Working among Yolngu people in North-eastern Arnhem Land has been, for me, the best job in the world. A side benefit is the opportunity to meet with inspirational health professionals sharing our journey.