The last 2 days working in Bairnsdale’s rural hospital has shone new light on the place they call “GP land”.

Bairnsdale is a town of approximately 14,000 in East Gippsland; a region of Victoria, Australia. It has a single screen cinema, 2 high schools, a bi-weekly newspaper, three Aussie Rules clubs, two GP practices and one excellent GP led hospital. Luckily for me, they are also home to the Gippsland branch of Monash University’s rural medical teaching programme.

In 2 days I have worked as part of the emergency department team led by the GP-emergency specialist, referred a patient to the medical ward under the care of the GP-obstetrician and tomorrow I will be working with the surgical team led by, you guessed it, a GP.

GPs in the area have developed special skills in their area of choice and contribute to the hospital in different ways. All the required fields are covered. GP-anaesthetists, GP-surgeons, GP-obstetricians, GP-emergency specialists to name a few.

Compared to an urban dwelling GP’s restriction to their own local practice’s resources this set up allows the Bairnsdale GPs to keep links with their community practice as well as have the resources and opportunity to maintain their chosen scpecialised skills. One doctor describes a work day recently when he spent the morning at his GP rooms, the afternoon in theatre as anaesthetist before being called to deliver a baby for one of his long time patients. Awesome.

As a person struggling to choose a specialised career, an option like this is perfect! I can have my cake and eat it too; the lifestyle of the local community doctor and the resources to utilise my chosen specialty whenever the need arises. Gippsland really has successfully put the ‘specialist’ into GP, and in my mind, “GP land” just took on a whole new dimension.