Feb 252011

General Paediatrician: Alice Springs Hospital

Paediatric Registrar: Alice Springs

Alice Springs Hospital is the only major hospital covering a catchment area of ~1,000,000 square km, which is literally “Bigger than Texas”. We care for some of the nation’s sickest and most socially disadvantaged people. Issues of Indigenous child health and welfare have been much publicised and politicised in recent years so further elaboration is unnecessary. The central desert region of Australia is unique. The lifestyle is laid back with an emphasis on outdoor activities and the arts. It is a friendly, welcoming place especially suited to anyone with a sense of adventure and those interested in “fourth world” health issues, not generally seen by most doctors in Australia.

We have 5 consultant positions with a strong commitment to teaching. Services include a 40 bed dedicated paediatric ward, an 8 bed SCN with ventilation and NO facilities and access to ICU beds as required. We also have a dedicated paediatric Out Patient area. There is opportunity for Outreach work .We have 6 Registrar positions the majority of which are filled by Advanced Trainees.

We offer trainees:

  • Exposure to Aboriginal Health
  • a spectrum of diseases you have probably only read about
  • severity of diseases unlikely to be encountered in major cities.

You will have opportunities to:

  • better understand the nexus between social environment and disease
  • visit remote communities and retrieve patients with the RFDS
  • complete community and rural training requirements for general paediatrics
  • complete projects
  • accept increasing responsibility for patient management.

We provide:

  • good consultant cover
  • commitment to teaching and supervision
  • a good roster.

Preference will be given to candidates seeking 12 month appointments.

Working in paediatrics at Alice Springs is challenging. At times the work here is hard and confronting. The flip side is that it offers opportunities to make a difference to patients’ lives which you probably don’t get in many places.

Starting date and length of contract flexible. Terms negotiable. Locums welcome.

If you have read this far, please contact: Rose Fahy, Paediatrician via email at rose.fahy@nt.gov.au or on Ph: +61 8 8951 7777 or on MOB: 0419 813 257.


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Feb 192011

A month before my RACP clinical exam last year, I was offered to do a rotation to Alice Springs Hospital (ASH) as a paediatric registrar. I haven’t heard much about the place previously. I thought that it was probably a stone’s throw away from Ayers Rock (Uluru), and that it was inhabited mostly by indigenous people. The Red Centre impressed me like an arid region with cacti and camels.

Let me tell you that these are misconceptions.

Alice Springs is a town situated in the southern part of the Northern Territory. It is equidistant to most major cities in Australia (and most beaches!) but realistically, this means more than 2000km of travelling. Close to 30,000 people live here, most of whom are Caucasian Australians. Although the Indigenous people make up a minority of the population, they represent >90% of hospital admissions. The Alice Springs Hospital has a catchment area of over 1 million square kilometres. Some patients would be retrieved from near the WA, SA, QLD, or NSW border. Although health service has improved vastly over the last few decades, it is still considered lacking out in the bush. Health clinics in the remote areas are managed by experienced nurses; doctors fly in and out infrequently.

In one of the emails from ASH, they described their practice as 4th world medicine. Most diseases include tropical diseases found in developing countries – pneumonia, severe dehydration and diarrhoea, glomerulonephritis, scabies, abscesses, among others. I have never seen as much abnormal chest x-rays in my whole training! Kids presenting with acute febrile illness will likely grow Strep or Staph, or some funny organisms in the other body fluids! Apart from their medical problems, there are a lot of social concerns in this population. It is not uncommon for mothers to abscond with their children due to a pressing family matter (e.g. death in the family) or for children to present without their parents (but a distant relative).

Overall, it has been a rewarding experience for me – taught me more about aboriginal culture and how to communicate with them, how to deal with poorly compliant families, and how to practice safe medicine considering the families may live 500kms from the hospital!

Addendum: Alice Springs Hospital still has a shortage of experienced doctors. If an opportunity comes up for any of you to go there to work, grab it!

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