Dr John Douyere

Dr John Douyere

Treating GP for GPs4RuralDocs

if we want more doctors working in our beautiful rural Australian communities, it’s about encouragement, support and removing barriers.

Introducing Dr John Douyere – our first GP for rural health practitioners

Every time Dr John Douyere flies into Charleville, Quilpie and Cunnamulla as part of our GPs4RuralDocs program, he is reminded his career has come full circle. He spent 23 years as a rural doctor just a few hours away in the beautiful outback town of Longreach.

John knows better than most how important the GPs4RuralDocs program is to the healthcare workers that dedicate their lives to these rural communities. He understands the challenges they face when it comes to looking after their own health and wellbeing.

“Looking back on it now, I think that my overall health probably would’ve been better if I’d had access to something like this,” he says when reflecting on his own experiences as a doctor in Longreach. “Because when you’re in it, you can’t see it and you can’t see that you’re not looking after yourself particularly well.”

Despite the challenges that come with life as a rural doctor, there are no regrets in John’s voice when he talks about the many years spent in Longreach with his wife, Jayne, and their two boys. It’s mostly pride in a community he loved and satisfaction in the career path he took. A career path that was never forced upon him.

It was something he chose.

From Brisbane to outback Queensland

John was a Brisbane boy who went to Everton Park High School. When he graduated from the University of Queensland in 1989, he’d had enough of the city. It just didn’t resonate with him and a chance encounter with a rural doctor helped forge the path ahead.

“When I was a medical student, I was trying to plan my career and didn’t know what I was going to do,” he says.

“Then I had a chance encounter with a rural doctor. I had the opportunity to spend some time at his practice as a fourth-year medical student and felt very comfortable in the environment. I liked the range and variety of work and patients, and the breadth and scope of practice.”

He admits he then took every opportunity he could to get out of Brisbane.

John spent time in north Queensland for a couple of years after graduation before moving on to Toowoomba where the hospital had started a rural health training unit.

“It was the first rural health training unit in the world for medical training. So, I went there to be part of the rural health training in Toowoomba, with the specific goal of training and gaining the skills for rural medicine.”

As it turned out, Toowoomba would have more than just a lasting impact on his medical career. It’s where he met his wife, Jayne.

Together they would later go on to serve the community of Longreach and surrounding areas, and as a radiographer and sonographer, Jayne was a vital part of it all.

“My wife was an integral part of the healthcare team in Longreach and the whole central west, because hers was the only ultrasound service between Mount Isa and Emerald.”

Life in Longreach

John has great memories of his two decades in central west Queensland.

Longreach might be known for the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, the iconic QANTAS Founders Museum and beautiful cruises down the Thomson River, but for John, living in the ‘heart of outback Queensland’ as it’s known, was really all about community.

“If you’re not connected to the community, you really miss out on a lot,” he explains. “So, when we went to Longreach we made an active effort to integrate and be part of the community and it stood us in good stead and it’s something that we really miss still.”

He recalls fond memories spent drag racing, something he hasn’t done in many years, but at the time provided a healthy outlet from work.

“We used to go drag racing all over western Queensland,” he says. “We used to do a weekend trip from Longreach to Benaraby, which is near Gladstone. We’d do 600 kilometres each way to go racing, so we were pretty committed to it.”

But cars weren’t his only way of coping with the demands and responsibilities as a rural doctor. John and his wife, Jayne, made many lasting connections that were there for the highs and lows of rural life.

He recalls when the difficult time came for his boys to head off to boarding school and how the locals would lean on each other for support.

“It was a tough one. They grow up quickly when they go to boarding school and it doesn’t suit all kids that’s for sure. But there’s a strong tradition of boarding school out in western Queensland and many of our friends who are graziers and local professionals and what-not, had kids who went to boarding school as well, so we had support and understanding from them.”

While John and Jayne would eventually follow their boys to the Gold Coast to be there for them in their final years of high school, the bonds they made in Longreach still stand.

“On the occasions when we visit Longreach, which is once or twice a year now, that instant reconnection with the community is very strong,” he says.

Supporting the next generation of rural doctors

John understands firsthand the challenges facing rural doctors when they get out into the regions.

But the obstacles don’t start there he explains, as many early career doctors aren’t always encouraged in their desires to go rural and require extra support and guidance. I

It’s another reminder of why the GPs4RuralDocs program is so important and why people like John are so keen to be involved. It’s a way of addressing just some of the challenges that doctors face when working rurally.

And as John explains, if we want more doctors working in our beautiful rural Australian communities, it’s about encouragement, support and removing barriers.

“Instead of trying to force people to go, we do things to try and encourage them to get there if they want to go. It’s really about supporting people that want to do it.”

What is the GPs4RuralDocs program?

When John travels to Charleville, Quilpie and Cunnamulla, he provides on-the-ground GP services for the doctors and healthcare workers in these areas. While previously they have been forced to be treated by colleagues or travel long distances for their own healthcare, this service will enable them to receive confidential, high-quality healthcare in their own communities.