From outer space to a rural town – one doctor’s journey

Once upon a time there was a young doctor, born in Ski Lanka, who became a doctor on the back of a gigantic turtle…well sort of. His story has one vital element, a passion for helping people and improving health outcomes for rural and remote communities.

Rural Doctors Foundation is privileged to be part of his journey.  Through our funding of programs delivered by RDAQ, Rural Doctors Foundation provided opportunities for this young student to explore a rural medical career.  All while receiving both financial and emotional support.  Vid was grateful for this support and was generous in his time to raise funds for Rural Doctors Foundation – in what could only be described with the enthusiasm and boundless energy that is Vid.

Dr Vidhushan (Vid) Paheerathan never actually wanted to be a doctor. He was going to be an astronaut. But his childhood dream for space travel was dashed when he discovered he needed glasses and his eyesight wouldn’t pass NASA’s lofty standards.

His family relocated to Sydney when he was 10 years old.  Vid set his (slightly diminished) sights on being a vet. He held onto that vision up until his senior years at high school. His passion for helping animals led him on a conservation mission for leatherback sea turtles in Costa Rica. But, as fate would have it, a member of the conservation team fell ill. Vid was shocked to discover the local doctor only visited once a fortnight and they put the patient on the back of a ute to seek medical treatment, an option not available to the locals.

“I went there wanting to be a vet, idolising Doctor Chris Brown the Bondi Vet, and I came back wanting to do something in the human health field,” Vid said. “I felt that animals were amazing and needed to be cared for, but there were humans in rural communities everywhere who had poorer access to healthcare than even animals did in cities. Which was very shocking to me.

“I wondered how  migrant living in Sydney, could have better healthcare than the traditional custodians of the land and the people living and working in rural and remote areas who keep the country running.”

He didn’t think he was ‘smart enough’ to be a doctor so he decided to become a physio. Then, a couple of years into his degree at JCU in Townsville, he realised his true calling was to be a rural doctor. He switched to medicine, completed placements in Palm Island, Collinsville, Broome, Thursday Island and Emerald.

At his first RDAQ conference in 2018 he was sponsored by rural legend Dr Chester Wilson who became his medical mentor and friend.

His love of all things rural grew and Vid is now enjoying his first year as a Rural Generalist Pathway intern doing his placement at Mt Isa Hospital.

Rural Doctors Foundation is proud to be part of his story – even if in a small way!