Junior doctors bolster healthcare across the Sunshine Coast and Gympie

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Director of Clinical Training Dr Thi Aung and SCHHS Acting Executive Director Medical Services Dr Alison Roper with the 2023 Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Medical Interns

As a record number of junior doctors hit the frontline across Queensland, the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service (SCHHS) has welcomed 72 of those medical interns throughout its facilities.

Director of Clinical Training Dr Thi Aung said the next year is extremely important, as it is where the junior doctors build good foundations to progress their career.

“They have to do emergency, medicine and surgery as mandatory, but they also have an elective term, so they are rotating, mainly in the Sunshine Coast University Hospital but also in Nambour, Maleny and Gympie as well,” she said.

Of the 72 junior doctors, 25 of them completed their MD at the Sunshine Coast Health Institute (SCHI) through Griffith University.

“There are a lot of positives of getting those local medical students to be part of our internship group, and one of the greatest advantages is they know the system, they know the people and they already have some training in ieMR,” Dr Aung said.

After completing their orientation week to familiarise themselves with each hospital and the clinical practice and procedures, there are 60 intern positions at SCUH, 10 at Nambour, one at Maleny, and one at Gympie.

Junior Doctor Ben Thurgood has wanted to be a doctor since he was 5 years old.

“Currently I’m on the Rural Generalist Pathway through Queensland Health and hopefully going to go through AHPRA and become a GP a little but more rurally, just give back to the community a little but out that way. I like it because I get a bit more hands on, I get a bit more responsibility and can really put the skills to work,” he said.

Ben spent some time up at Gympie Hospital during his medical training and will also head there later this year during one of his rotations.

“All the staff up there do such a great job it’s a fun team environment up there and they do such great work.”

Despite always trying to do things differently growing up, twins Katherine Ups and Liisa Ups are also both joining SCHHS this year as junior doctors.

“I think there will be a lot of, not issues, but times on the wards when there’s a bit of mix up, there’s actually a few rotations that we’re following each other on so people will think they get rid of us and then the next one will just join,” Lisa said.

While it is still early in their career, both women are also interested in pursuing careers as General Practitioners.

“I think going through med school there were different rotations I loved, I loved the emergency department out at Nambour, I loved my General Practitioner rotation so I think the end goal at this stage but I’m sure it will change over the years is to become a GP focusing on women’s health and paediatrics,” Katherine said.

SCHHS Acting Executive Director Medical Services Dr Alison Roper said the new medical interns will contribute to strengthening our region’s future health workforce.

“The Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service is proud to welcome the junior doctors, who are embarking on a challenging yet very exciting and rewarding period of their careers,” Dr Roper said.

“It is a difficult time transitioning from student to doctor but we really support them through the process, the Medical Education Department really take them under their wing as well to make sure the progression is as smooth as possible.

“They are a key part of our workforce and patient care is obviously their focus, and all the things they do contribute to that.”