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27 Jun 2017

By Sandra Hirowatari, Chair, AMA Council of Rural Doctors

I know there are times you feel isolated, not “lucky” enough to have the amenities and support found in more populated areas.

I’d like to point out a unique, not often thought of advantage of being Rural.  A strength our urban colleagues must miss.

Unlike other specialties or craft groups, we have an array of Professional Associations - all with “Rural” in their name. 

  • AMA Council of Rural Doctors (AMA -CRD)
  • Royal Australian College of GPs- Rural (RACGP-Rural)
  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM)
  • Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA)
  • National Rural Health Alliance Inc (NRHA)
  • World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA Rural)

 What can it mean to you, these Rural focus interest groups?  Of course these good organisations can counter the isolation, the unique challenges of Rural health, workforce, training and services.  But more than this, they are your family.  Like family there is love, loyalty and yes friction between siblings.  Family takes effort and work.  Families also get together and have parties.

When you “belong” to a cohort, there is a sense of the need to contribute, to participate, to “pitch in”.  When something good happens to your association, even though you did not do the work behind the accolade, there is still a sense of pride and the wish to boast about an achievement. Also when you belong, you earn the right to be (self) critical and to whinge.

You can choose to join one, two or all of the above groups.  Even joining all of them might seem a lot of money, but put it into perspective.  You are Rural, at times isolated, at times not feeling heard or recognised.  You do not pay daily for parking and/or a cup of espresso coffee.

What is the cost not to belong to one, some or all of these Rural Associations?  You miss out.  Your voice is louder with the microphone under your lips.  Issues you struggle with daily, you remain unaware that others had the same struggle (think dogs, scabies, RHD, lack of fresh vegetables).  You remain isolated, in your silo, working hard, alone. Do you have a “go-to” professional secretariat to ask about legal, political or membership issues?  I do, and I have spent countless hours being supported by them.  If you attend their conventions or get togethers you pay NON-MEMBER fees.  What a horrible word, non-member.

Aren’t you lucky you CAN belong to these groups?  They exist for you.

ps… I belong to four of them.


Published: 27 Jun 2017