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12 Jun 2018


The AMA Council of Rural Doctors (AMACRD) congratulates Dr Tony Bartone on winning the election for AMA President. I am glad I was able to nab him just after his victory. I promised that I would be in touch soon.  Why?  Well, of course to discuss rural issues. Rural health, rural doctors, rural funding, unique rural challenges. From the AMACRD viewpoint.

We know he is sensitive to our uniqueness. Here are a few things that the wider community should also be aware of. 

  • Rural doctors are isolated, our misuse of alcohol and other drugs is at a higher rate than our urban colleagues. We are in situations where to have a local GP would be an invasion of both the doctor’s and patient’s privacy. Please help destigmatise and talk about our mental health needs. Mandatory reporting has worked against us, and the new COAG discussions do not fill us with confidence.
  • In rural Australia, gender inequity and racial discrimination is normalised and unrecognised. Female doctors are criticised for the needs of their family, for even considering pregnancy.
  • We are not specialists, we are generalists. Even the rural specialists here are generalists of their specialty. You know, a Jack or Jill of all trades. We make mistakes but so do specialists. In fact, our urban specialists makes amusing mistakes when they come Outback. Yes that is scabies, no, don’t freak out. Yes that is a 14-year-old Type 2 diabetic. Yes it is nearby, just 600 km away.
  • We need more funding support to be effective.
  • Please encourage us to submit abstracts to rural events. Promote the leaders on our Council so they are invited to the podium at rural conferences. Our Council is strong, and getting stronger.
  • The AMA Council of Rural Doctors has voices from around Australia. A past member just won the AMA President’s Medal.
  • We would love to meet more often.
  • If the AMA President or the Vice President are invited to a rural event, please advise us.
  • Consider an AMA-sponsored Rural Doctor Award.

We challenge any doctor to visit a remote colleague. Bunk down in their spare bedroom, lock yourself behind the two sets of metal cages needed to keep you and yours safe as you sleep. Grab some sticks to ward off dogs if you go for a walk. Remember a torch. Shop at one of our 1000h to 1400h grocery stores, see the condition and price of lettuce.  Travel in a four-wheel-drive, cuss as you get bogged. Cast your eyes on the most gorgeous sunsets in the world. Be a GP locum for one day at a practice in Tennant Creek, lay your stethoscope on the pulsatile chest of a 25-year-old Aboriginal lad with RHD. Feel the horror of knowing he will not see his 30th birthday.  Go fishing and OMG, catch a crocodile.

See the beauty and the ugliness of Remote Australia.

As AMA Vice President the past two years, Dr Bartone teleconferenced with us, the Council of Rural Doctors. We greatly appreciated his attention and contribution. Now that he is President we don’t want to let him go. We want to continue to see his face at our videoconferencing.  His presence in our meetings is valued.

Again, we congratulate our new President. We have great hopes for his presidency and we stand with him. 






Published: 12 Jun 2018