WA Regional Training Hubs Dr Graeme Fitzclarence

09/03/2022 | 3 mins

Dr Graeme Fitzclarence believes it takes ‘a community of clinicians to raise a junior doctor’ and the driving force of his role with the WA Regional Training Hubs is to nurture that community.

“I work across the spectrum of early career professionals – from those contemplating medicine while still at high school, through to PGY6+ doctors who haven’t yet decided on their Fellowship pathway.

An important aspect of my role is connecting aspiring rural doctors with appropriate mentors and advisors, to help them pursue the career pathway of their choice.

Dr Graeme Fitzclarence

“There are many reasons why someone may not yet have attained Fellowship. Perhaps they’ve started a particular Fellowship pathway only to realise it isn’t for them, so my role there may be to help them identify the right fit.

“Others may need support to get onto the training program of their choice – so I might connect them in with someone in my network who can best advise how best to make their CV appealing or what rotations they might pursue to improve their chances of acceptance by the relevant college.

“There is increasing opportunity to pursue other specialisations in country WA; although I don’t keep any formal record, I’ve helped link junior doctors into anaesthetics training, psychiatry training and ED training.

“The critical thing is for them to get broad exposure to different aspects of medicine, so they are well-placed to determine the most appropriate pathway for them.

It’s great that we’re building a system that supports a diverse range of training options and developing greater awareness about the range of opportunities among our junior doctors; after all we don’t need to create a bunch of mini ‘Graemes’ working as GP Anaesthetists!”

Graeme said his own medical career had many influences, however credits his wife Dr Cherelle Fitzclarence as being a catalyst for choosing medicine.

“I had worked as a jackaroo on cattle stations, a nurse, a paramedic and also ran a sand blasting business, and an auto spray painting and panel beating business before starting medicine fairly late in life.

“While living in the Kimberley, Cherelle and I would often take the RCSWA medical students camping and travelling – the likes of Dr Jared Watts and Dr James Fitzpatrick and many more. During the drive they would chat about presentations they had managed and Cherelle would throw questions at them.

“I was working as a registered nurse at the time and was a bit frustrated by a lack of autonomy. Sitting in the front of the car driving on these trips, I would often know the answers to Cherelle’s questions – and decided I had what it took to pursue medicine.

Two people at a conference

Image: Dr Cherelle Fitzclarence and Dr Graeme Fitzclarence.

“During medical school, I was a John Flynn Placement Program scholar placed with a GP Anaesthetist and GP Surgeon (Dr’s Rowena Conway and Ben Abbot) in South Australia.

“That placement opened my eyes to the diversity and variety of practise offered as a rural GP proceduralist and we headed to South Australia to complete my GP and anaesthetics training in SA.”

Renowned rural generalist, Dr John Radunovich, was also a great source of support and inspiration.

“John delivered me back in Kununoppin and we kept in touch over the years. He was generous with his guidance when he heard I was pursuing medicine.”

Despite his colourful career history, Graeme firmly believes that the skills he developed in prior roles have daily relevance in medicine.

“Whether I’m working in an acute clinical or an administrative setting, doing anaesthetics or palliative care – I’m calling on a range of experiences, not just clinical abilities.

“It might involve problem solving to develop a treatment plan for a remote patient, negotiating for an urgent retrieval or convincing a patient to be compliant with their medications – each of these scenarios employs skills I’ve developed through my prior life experiences.

So my message to others is to never devalue yourself; everyone has a story and their own journey in medicine and all of your prior experiences will bring depth, empathy and insight to your role.

Dr Graeme Fitzclarence

Dr Graeme Fitzclarence is a Medical Coordinator for WA Regional Training Kimberley and Pilbara Hub, for more information please contact the WA Regional Training Hubs Team at hubs@rcswa.edu.au.

The Regional Training Hubs have been developed as part of the Australian Government Department of Health’s Integrated Rural Training Pipeline for Medicine (IRTP).

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