07 December 2017

A life changed by remote training


Dr Jian Zhou’s story with NTGPE started the same as many GP registrars who come from interstate to train in general practice in the NT. He came from Sydney without any support, he had never been to the NT or had any Indigenous health training experience and didn’t know anyone in the NT.  There were some signs early on however that his training journey wouldn’t end as he had planned.

“Jian’s interest in Aboriginal health grew with his first term in Central Australian Aboriginal Congress where he was fully immersed in Aboriginal health. It seems this early exposure was the catalyst for a continued interest in providing health care to Aboriginal patients in very remote Aboriginal communities. Interestingly, this is in stark contrast to Jian’s initial motivation of finishing his GP training as quickly as he possibly could and return to NSW” says Susie Lehmann GP Registrar Program Manager at NTGPE.

After spending two years working and training in Alice Springs Jian then spent 12 months working and training west of Katherine in a town called Timber Creek with the Katherine West Health Board. Timber Creek is a remote Aboriginal community where most of his patients would have been Indigenous.

“Living in remote NT is not bad at all. Some people who have never been to remote NT may feel scared, but I would say that living remote is enjoyable, peaceful and easy. The local people are so nice and respectful. They thank you from their heart after seeing you. All the people seem to live within a big family. I like this kind of feeling” said Jian.

Jian’s supervisor Dr Odette Phillips has described him as easy-going and eager to provide good health care and easily able to form good relationships with training post, while not being particularly phased by remote life.

Jian identified being able to provide ongoing care in community as the most important part of his job. “I have gained a lot from the training program which guided me from a hospital doctor to a GP, which I really like. I understand how important it is to provide ongoing care and a continuity of care to patients. There are so many things that we can do for our patients”.

While it is clear Jian has thrived in his remote health experiences, it is important to note that it is unlikely Jian would have done remote health if he wasn’t placed into it. “As Jian’s pastoral care officer who is responsible for his emotional and logistical wellbeing, I believe it’s very unlikely Jian would have worked remote if it wasn’t for his GP registrar experience. He is proof that a city boy, originally from a large city in China can do it and enjoy it”.

Jian fellowed with RACGP in August 2017, and has no plans to pack his bags for NSW. “I really want to stay in places which need doctors and medical services. In these regions, a GP can provide a more comprehensive service and care for the local people. I really enjoy how GPs have a good relationship with locals and know more about local health issues”.

If you are interested in training in general practice in the Northern Territory, contact marketing@ntpge.org to learn how.