What is it like to be a GP at KAMS? 

Our Deputy Medical Director Dr. Casey shares what it’s like working as a GP for KAMS, including the key differences between metro and remote work, the type of support available and the experiences she’s had so far. 

Dr. Casey joined KAMS in 2016 as a GP registrar. In her role, she conducts clinic work through a combination of telehealth and in-person services in remote clinics and at headspace. She supports GPs through various managerial duties, such as rostering, recruitment and covering leave. She is also responsible for completing policy reviews, system reviews, funding applications and liaising with external service providers for KAMS

“I love the people I work with and the patients we care for. I also like facilitating a great experience for GPs who join the organisation and work in Aboriginal healthcare, ensuring they have good supervision.”

It has always been Casey’s goal to work in Aboriginal health, and she waited for the right opportunity.

“I heard really positive things about KAMS’ GP registrar training program, so I applied and moved to Broome. Initially, the plan was to join for 6 months, but that got extended, and continued to be extended. I ended up working in the role for 21 months.”

Following her time with the program, Casey took a position with Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS) – a member service of KAMS. After leaving BRAMS to take maternity leave, she rejoined KAMS in 2019.

KAMS’ telehealth services 

Although KAMS had experience in telehealth prior to COVID-19, Casey observes that concerns around patient perceptions and connectivity issues meant it was generally viewed as a secondary strategy.

“COVID-19 forced us to sort this out quickly. Our IT team was great in facilitating this change quickly and effectively. Our concerns about patient apprehensions about using telehealth services have changed. Many patients are using it successfully, and are happy to be able to get the support they need.”

While the technology still has some limitations, Casey is looking forward to helping to secure more funding for KAMS to upgrade its equipment to provide more sophisticated telehealth services.

GP registrars at KAMS 

According to Casey, GPs who succeed in KAMS are those who perceive the challenges of the role as opportunities. KAMS manages five remote health centres across the Kimberley, and while experiences can differ from clinic to clinic, every GP has the opportunity to experience interesting medical work, backed by support.

“It’s challenging medically, because there are many presentations of conditions. These can vary from acute presentations of very sick patients who need immediate RFDS transfer, to chronic diseases. There are many illnesses you wouldn’t see in metro areas; but this means you learn so much. Even while working remotely and being presented with unfamiliar conditions, there are always people you can reach out to for help.”

Working remotely doesn’t mean working in isolation.

KAMS staff and colleagues at regional health providers, such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service, West Australian Country Health Services and KAMS member services are available and willing to provide support and additional insights. Working remotely never means working in isolation.

Living and working in the Kimberley 

“There are many registrars who have completed work in Broome. Generally, people adjust very well. We support people with accommodation. People are very friendly and social in Broome, so it’s easy to make friends. We even have a KAMS social club. We have a really happy, positive team at KAMS, and there are plenty of places to meet people.”

For Casey, the favourite part of her role is clinic work and visiting communities. In considering her favourite memories and experiences working at KAMS, she says she really enjoyed clinical work on the Dampier peninsula.

“As an organisation, KAMS has a rich history in the Kimberley.” 

“Living in the accommodation there, walking on the beach and meeting the people allows you to get a real sense of place. I also enjoy visiting Balgo and Kutjungka. I always learn something new, medically. It’s challenging, but rewarding.”

Remote clinics are part of what makes KAMS such a unique place to work.

“As an organisation, KAMS has a rich history in the Kimberley. It operates a number of units in addition to remote services, including Kimberley Supports, population health, Social Emotional Well Being, headspace Broome, research and a registered training organisation. This makes you feel well-connected across the region. It also makes you feel like you have a voice in the region to advocate for Aboriginal healthcare. Our leadership team, nursing, clinical support and wider support staff are very skilled.”

Casey recently made the move from Broome to live and work in NSW. Outside of work, she loves spending time with her two-year-old. She also enjoys playing touch football, netball, crafts, bike riding, camping and hosting friends for dinner.

We’re currently seeking more GPs to join KAMS! If you’re a qualified GP or know someone who might be interested in this opportunity, find out more and apply here.

© 2021 Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services