Supporting GP services to rural health practitioners

Keeping our rural GPs healthy and in their community 

Sue's story - GPs need doctors too!

At Rural Doctors Foundation, we value the commitment of rural health practitioners to their communities. As rural doctors, we recognise their dedication and the challenges that comes with rural practice. This dedication, in combination with limited healthcare options, distance and work shortages often results in many rural GPs neglecting their own health and wellbeing.  This can lead to burnout and illness, forcing doctors to leave rural practice for extended periods of time or even for ever.  

This is critical issue as it can leave rural communities without access to basic healthcare.

Like their patients, rural doctors face challenge in accessing healthcare. Being the only doctor in town or part of a small close-knit team of healthcare professionals, accessing independent and confidential healthcare is a barrier to self-care. This results in many being faced with the choice of either being seen by a colleague, someone they know or, forced to travel extraordinary long distances to receive the very same level of independent care they provide their own patients. 


The King of Rural Medicine

In remote regions of Australia,  GPs like Dr Sue Masel are travelling over 300km to receive healthcare, leaving their communities without access to healthcare during this time.  

With GPs4RuralDocs, rural practitioners can prioritise their own personal health and wellbeing without having to leave their town and patients.

Offering essential independent high-quality continuation of primary healthcare by the same doctor, rural practitioners receive a combination of in-town face to face consultations with telehealth services in between visits. The service is delivered by our team of doctors who understand rural practice and are trained in doctor-to-doctor care.

Whether we are flying or driving into a rural community or facilitating the exchange of doctors within selected towns, Rural Doctors Foundation has the health and wellbeing of our rural practitioners covered.

GPs4RuralDocs service  allows rural health practitioners to continue to meet the needs of their community, while prioritising their own health. The benefits go beyond looking after their physical health, it is about emotional support, having the opportunity to chat with someone who understands the challenges you are going through, and more than likely, been in a similar situation themselves earlier in their career. They provide invaluable advice and support for a health practitioner who often feels isolated and alone.

“Having  a listening ear can be just as important as someone monitoring your physical health”. 

It may be the difference between a health practitioner deciding to leave rural practice or remain in their community to continue providing much needed health care.  

If your interest is as a patient or as a GP delivering the service, we would love to hear from you.
Dr Sue Masel has lived and worked in Goondiwindi in western Queensland for 25 years. She works as a rural GP and is incredibly connected to the town. Growing up in Brisbane, her passion for rural medicine was the surprising outcome of an early career placement.

“In my second year, they sent me to Goondiwindi… it was more difficult than I anticipated. It could have been so much better if I had the skills and training to do it properly. So, I trained  to give me those skills, including a Diploma of Obstetrics,” Sue says.

Sue went on to complete a fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice Anaesthetics before returning to Goondiwindi for what was to be a six-month period. 25 years later, Goondiwindi is where she and her husband, also a rural GP, have made their home, raised their family and are continuing to care for the community.

“We’re two of the five doctors that run Goondiwindi Medical Centre.  “Rural practice is not without its challenges – one of those accessing health care for yourself. I respect the skills and experience of my colleagues. But, when it comes to my own health care, I need some separation between being a doctor and a patient. So, I choose to travel to Brisbane for my own health care. This is a 700km round trip.

It takes me away from family and my patients. And, the need for a doctor trained in anaesthetics to be there for the community means my visit to the GP is sometimes delayed.”

Passionate about the health of our rural GPs, Sue is excited to be part of the team in Rural Doctors Foundation working  to deliver GP services to rural health practitioners.

Sue understands what rural doctors face. Speaking with a GP is not only about your physical health – it is talking with someone who knows exactly what you are going through.