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23 Jul 2018

Family Doctor Week 
Dr Amanda Bethell – South Australia 

Being a general practitioner in a regional coastal town must have its challenges, but the idyllic location makes the positives somewhat obvious.

Port Augusta, on South Australia’s beautiful Eyre Peninsula, is home to about 13,000 people, and for the few years Dr Amanda Bethell has been one of them.

Describing the small city (or large town) as a lovely location – and a great place to raise kids, Dr Bethell has immersed herself in the local community.

In addition to her day job at the Old Base Medical Centre, she has founded charities, chairs the Flinders and Far North Doctors’ Association, hosts monthly multicultural meals, addresses countless events and meetings … and that’s just for starters.

“I teach medical students, supervise registrars, and I am on the after-hours roster at the hospital,” she said.

“I do ward rounds at the hospital in the morning and see two or three patients, then at the clinic about 20 or 30 a day.

“What I really love about being a GP is spending my days with a wide range of people from all ages and stages and walks of life.

“We share their challenges and learn from each other. Being in a rural town helps me understand better some of the issues and opportunities for the people I’m working with.

“I’m blessed to live in such a beautiful, rugged and culturally interesting part of the world.”

Dr Bethell, who was last year named the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners GP of the Year, sees several families where she is treating four generations.

“It’s lovely to see that and be involved in the generations that way. Some of my patients have children the same age as mine and who go to school together,” she said.

“The other day an elderly lady came in because she had broken her arm. She has osteoporosis. I had that discussion with her, but she was brought in by her daughter, so I had the discussion with her too.

“The discussion with the daughter was that she had a family history of osteoporosis and so we could take precautions. Those opportunistic occurrences are rewarding.”

Dr Bethell finds much of her life as a GP in Port August rewarding.

“My husband and I just started a Parkrun in Port Augusta,” she said.

“It’s really nice to be able to be involved in a health promotion activity that’s social and it’s free. And I get to see patients in a family context.”

CHRIS JOHNSON


Published: 23 Jul 2018