Dr Sarah Goddard always wanted to be a doctor and return to her home town of Tennant Creek to minimise the impact poor health can have on her community.
Sarah is now living her dream, back in Tennant Creek as the first Aboriginal Fellow of ACRRM in the NT and only the second Aboriginal Female Fellow in Australia for ACRRM.
“I always wanted to be a rural generalist and be able to offer help and understanding in rural and remote medicine, Aboriginal health, emergency medicine, and general practice,” she said.
“I have seen first-hand the impact of chronic diseases on a person, a family and a community.
“When asked where I wanted to do my GP training, there was nowhere else I wanted to be. I wanted to be home in my community, helping the people I love to better their own health.
“I want to educate the younger generations to come. I want to be a role model for others to follow, showing them anything is achievable, if you’re willing to give it a go.”
Sarah, a proud Kaytetye woman, left Tennant Creek to complete medical school in Newcastle and returned to her community to complete her GP training with NTGPE.
Sarah has worked for the last four years in Tennant Creek, working 50-50 between general practice and the local hospital, in emergency and in the wards.
“I want to try and educate my community about chronic disease in a way they understand to try to prevent these irreversible conditions occurring.
“As an Aboriginal doctor, I feel I have a rapport with many Indigenous people, providing primary care and being able to relate personally to some of the challenges they face.”
Sarah has an unwavering passion for remote health, and she cannot think of a better place to have completed her GP training than in Tennant Creek through NTGPE.
“The general remote support from NTGPE – such as isolation flights, remote subsidies, and pastoral care – is amazing,” she said.
“They worked hard to make sure I was given the opportunities to attend courses, conferences, or education sessions, and were flexible enough to allow me to do all my training here in Tennant Creek.
“Remote training is the best training. In remote locations, you’re not only the doctor but you’re a member of the community.
“I have always wanted to be the doctor that everyone knows.
"Tennant Creek is a place where you see real-life medicine that some would only see in textbooks. I am seeing patients with acute medical problems in the emergency department, but also spending time in general practice. Tennant Creek is what rural and remote medicine is all about."
Sarah, a recent Fellow, has overcome many challenges to gain her qualifications, which she puts down to her own persistence and support from family and friends.
“I hope to be a role model for other people in my community, showing them you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it,” she said.
“I’ve had heaps of challenges along the way. Every time I failed, I knew that I could pick myself up and do it again.
“When my patients are in the waiting room and they smile because they see it’s me, it just fills my heart to see them do it. It makes me proud and happy for them to put their trust in me.”
When asked where she sees herself in the future, Sarah says her answer is always the same: “Right where I am now”.
“I’m working in my community, helping my people, making a difference, and becoming a role model,” she said.
"Not being able to prevent chronic disease is challenging. Not being able to make everything right is challenging and I can’t save everyone. But I can try. I can try and educate my patients, and the best way to do this is to be a rural GP.
“Change takes time, but the little steps in between are so rewarding."