Awards encourage rural medical talent

Three junior doctors and one senior clinical at Bendigo Health have been recognised for their commitment to rural health and excellence in practice and teaching at the inaugural Rural Talent Development awards.

Sponsored by the Monash Rural Health's North West Victorian Regional Training Hub, the awards aim to encourage and support junior doctors who have chosen a career in rural or regional practice. They also celebrate senior clinicians who excel in their support for junior doctors in training.

Director, Dr Mani Thomas says regional health professionals have a very strong work ethos. "At the same time medical staff can be reticent about their achievements. Perhaps it's a country thing," he said. "You just get on with the job. We wanted to encourage our medical workforce by recognising the efforts they take every day for every one of their patients and their colleagues."

The North West Victorian Regional Training Hub is one of 26 across Australia established to support the careers of doctors who want to pursue a career in rural or regional medicine.

"The Regional Training Hub wants to encourage all doctors wanting to work regionally and this was a good way to project that intention," said Dr Thomas. "Our partnerships with health services are vitally important in supporting the careers of junior doctors and we look forward to continuing our work with Bendigo Health."

The awards were presented by Bendigo Health CEO, Peter Faulkner, and Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Casey Nottage, during orientation week for new Bendigo Health interns. The four category winners were nominated by medical students and fellow staff.

2019 Intern of the Year: Dr Rachel Van Zetten

Dr Van Zetten with her awardDr Van Zetten showed a high level of compassion to a patient experiencing severe difficulty coping with his terminal illness diagnosis. She consistently communicated with the patient, the family and the entire rehab team to ensure the patient could receive the optimal care required to lessen their pain and struggle. Rachel is incredibly trustworthy and committed to the delivery of excellent care. She is always advocating for patients despite the multiple pressures placed on a junior doctor.

Hailing from Geelong, Dr Van Zetten undertook most of her medical training in regional areas (Traralgon, Swan Hill and Bendigo) and is planning a career as a rural GP.

2019 HMO (Hospital Medical Officer) of the Year: Dr Christina Giudice

Dr Giudice with her awardDr Giudice has always been caring, not only of patients, but all other staff. She is polite, punctual and professional, but also takes the time to ensure her patients are receiving the best possible care, while also discussing any of their concerns personally with them. She is also trustworthy. As a fellow resident she has a reputation to always being on time and organised. Any time others are struggling she will volunteer to take on extra responsibilities to help others out. "I have not worked with anyone more caring, compassionate and trustworthy. Any patient she meets, colleague she works with or person she knows will be able to attest," said one of her nominators.

Dr Giudice completed her entire medical training in central and northern Victoria and wants to pursue a career in radiology. She needs to train in the city, but plans to come back as much as possible during her training and once qualified.

2019 Registrar of the Year: Dr Tom Faulkner

Dr Faulkner with his award"Dr Faulkner advocates 100 per cent for the best care that he can provide. He communicates in the most compassionate way and he exhibits the highest levels of professionalism I have seen in a Registar," said one of his nominators. "To put it another way, if there was a member of my family that was really sick, I would have complete and utter trust in Tom looking after them."

Brought up in Bendigo, Dr Faulkner and his spouse are committed to a future in the town. One of his nominators observed that: "Despite the fact that I have been clear with Tom that he could have a great future in Palliative Medicine, he is very clear that he wishes to pursue a career in General Practice within the town and he will be a great asset in what is an under-resourced area of provision."

2019 Clinical Educator of the Year: Dr Kiran Veera

Dr Kiran Veera with his award"Dr Veera has consistently exceeded the requirements of his role as director of emergency medicine training, being available on his days off, and going above and beyond to ensure our learning and wellbeing are at their best," said one of his nominators. His caring and compassionate side comes out as he mentors the junior registrars and helps them through hard times; the box of tissues in his office gets a work out!

Dr Veera has helped the Bendigo ED gain 24-month accreditation for training, allowing junior doctors to be based there and giving them career certainty.