Jacinta Clark

A Country Practice – Dr Jacinta Clark

PREGNANT women in the Limestone Coast will be delivered easier access to specialist care, thanks to a new initiative bringing young doctors to the country for on the job training.

It’s seen 28 year old Dr Jacinta Clark start work at Mount Gambier Hospital this week, as an obstetric and gynaecology  service registrar.

“The title is a bit of a mouthful,” Dr Clark said with a laugh.

“The really exciting thing is that junior doctors who are not yet in specialist training, can now work, learn, and serve the community, “I’ll be on the delivery roster at Mount Gambier, and that will take some of the load off these rural GPs who are working really, really hard.” Dr Clark said the hospital is, in fact, expecting twins – as a second young doctor is joining her.

She hopes an immediate benefit is that Covid-19 induced delays for treating non urgent gynaecological problems are cut.

Patience has always been a virtue in country medicine.

Regional communities around Australia often face long delays attracting staff.

‘’When you talk about getting doctors to work in the country, one of the things that makes that more difficult is that you can’t train,” Dr Clark said.

“If you are looking at a training program, such as for me becoming a gynaecologist, you can’t go rural because you need to train in the city, so this is a great opportunity”

“I’m really passionate about women’s health, I’m really passionate about equality for rural patients.”

That passion wasn’t learnt in medical school – Jacinta Clark grew up the Limestone Coast.

“My mum and grandparents are from Robe… my mum and dad actually met in Robe,” she said.

“We’ve lived in Mount Gambier for the past 23 years, so I did my primary schooling, all my high schooling, I did one of my placement years in medical school at Mount Gambier hospital, so yeah, this has been home for as long as I can remember.”

Helping others find their ‘place’ is also one of Dr Clark’s passions – it drives her voluntary work for The Pinnacle Foundation.

“We’re a charity that supports disadvantaged LGBTQI kids to complete their Uni or TAFE courses”, she said.

“It’s not only financial support, the important thing is we match the scholar with a mentor already working in their chosen field of study.”

Jacinta Clark is the Foundation’s scholar liaison.

Mostly that involves catching up for coffee and a chat, but sometimes it’s solving an unexpected life crisis.

“I had a call in the middle of the night from one of our scholars on country placement”, she said. “The ceiling in his house had caved in, he was on duty the next morning and he needed help to find a new place quickly.”

Dr Clark received a scholarship during her final year, when like all young doctors, she worked long days.

“The support and mentoring, I was so grateful for that”, Dr Clark said.

“But I can’t lie, the money was great too!”

“I bought text books for the first time… and who wants instant noodles every night, if they can avoid it.”

Delivering babies, and helping disadvantaged young people sounds like a prescription for exhaustion, but not to Dr Clark.

“Oh well, it’s just that I like doing tangible things to help people,” she said.

Article provided courtesy of The Border Watch

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