Dr Ben Dodds is a junior doctor and first year ACRRM trainee. Growing up in rural Tasmania and completing medical school at the University of Tasmania, he has returned to his rural roots to work in the North West Regional Hospital and transition into rural general practice. 

As a passionate advocate for rural health in Tasmania Ben is also involved in the Rural Generalist Coordinating Council and the Rural Doctors Association of Tasmania. He has been chosen to represent his peers as an Ambassador at this year’s Rural Medicine Australia 2019 conference (RMA19).

What made you want to pursue a career in rural medicine?
Growing up in rural Tasmania has made me aware of the issues facing access to health services and delivery of health care in rural areas. The diversity of work available in rural health is very appealing and the communities and places available to practice in are amazing.

Why did you choose ACRRM?
I was attracted to the ACRRM training program because of the depth and rural focus embedded in the Primary Curriculum. It allows for community-based care to be delivered in a safe and timely fashion. The opportunity to change path depending on community need is appealing and being able to bridge the gap between community and secondary health care. 

What are some things you might normally do in your day-to-day?
I am on the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) pathway with ACRRM and am currently completing the core clinical training terms as a part of the program. I have primary responsibility on the Obstetrics ward, including after hours on call in conjunction with senior registrars. The opportunity to assist in patient deliveries, caesarean sections and neonatal medicine is rewarding and will assist me in my future practice.

What has been one of your career highlights so far?
When I was an intern, I completed a rotation in a small hospital/general practice in Queenstown (Tasmania), an old West Coast mining town with a small population. It was a great experience managing patients who were sometimes quite unwell, in a resource limited setting with significant transport issues to the next major centre. I was given great autonomy with support from experienced Rural Generalists. The morning would begin with managing inpatients, would change to preventative health or women’s health in general practice to emergencies such as chest pain and trauma come afternoon time.

Do you have a dream place you’d like to work as a rural or remote GP?
I am still trying to work that out! I think it would be a Rural Generalist hospital that had good peer support. Hopefully it would be a seaside location with a mix of general practice, inpatient care and emergency medicine.

What are you most looking forward to at RMA19?
My favourite part of RMA is catching up with our rural family from around the country and sharing 3-4 days with likeminded, hard-working rural health professionals. The ACRRM community is very welcoming and love a quiet drink or two

Do you have any advice for those who might be attending their first conference?Please introduce yourself! We are all here to help support each other and their training journey. Everyone has their own unique experience from working in their rural community and the conference is eye opening in its support to younger members. The social events are a great time to hear some wild stories and build a great network of contacts around rural Australia so if you're new to RMA and ACRRM come and say hi and we'll share a beer or two!