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27 Feb 2019

With medical practices in rural Tasmania under pressure to recruit doctors to meet local patient demand, one of the State’s private providers of rural healthcare services, Ochre Health, is actively rising to the challenge by training young doctors with an interest in rural medicine.

Ochre Health owns and operates nine medical centres across Tasmania and 33 centres nationally. In 2018, the company was awarded the Commonwealth Government’s Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund – the first of several programs designed to train, mentor and support doctors on each step of their rural medical career. In partnership with the Tasmanian Health Service (THS) and the University of Tasmania, Ochre Health is coordinating 60 intern placements over a three-year period – making it host to the greatest number of approved internship locations in Australia from 2018 to 2020.

Ochre Health will place its fifth cohort of interns into four of its remote Tasmanian medical centres: Flinders Island, King Island, Scottsdale and Queenstown. Others will complete their placement at an independent medical centre in the Huon Valley. Interns can elect in subsequent years to go on and acquire advanced rural skills, culminating in recognition from the Royal Australian College of General Practice (RACGP) and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM).

Professor Dennis Pashen, Ochre Health’s Medical Coordinator for Tasmania and President of the ACRRM Quality and Safety Council, welcomes the next intake of junior medical officers, who are set to begin their training.

“We are excited that these medical graduates have opted to complete their rural primary care rotations in remote areas of Tasmania,” Professor Pashen said.

“The hands-on nature of these posts will increase the rural skills of these interns by exposing them to a greater breadth of medicine and, with their increased sense of responsibility, ultimately further their careers.”

Last year, Ochre Health nurtured Dr Ben Dodds through his 13-week internship placement at Ochre Medical Centre Queenstown. He was recently named Intern of the Year for 2018 – a prestigious health service award that recognises his excellent work as a junior doctor.

For Dr Dodds, his exposure to a variety of clinical work at Ochre Medical Centre Queenstown was an important part of his decision to pursue a ruralist general practice career, citing the ability to make an instantaneous, direct and positive impact on someone’s life as what he had been looking for as a junior medical officer.

“Growing up on the northern coast of Tasmania, I was aware of the important role that local health services play in rural communities,” Dr Dodds said.

“Being able to work closely with emergency medicine, as well as the close connection to your local healthcare team – both your community and patients – makes rural generalist practice a great career choice, and it can open doors to other specialities that you don’t always see in metropolitan hospitals.” 


Published: 27 Feb 2019