I chose to work at an Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) to gather some further experience in Indigenous health and gain greater confidence in managing complex chronic health conditions.
By far the best thing is the patients. Often as a registrar you are picking up patients that are disconnected from the health services, and if you show an interest in assisting them, they are incredibly appreciative. I also love the complexity of the medicine, and how that pushes you to broaden your scope of practice to help provide a better service.
Often the ACCHS are run more like a government organisation, which means more set hours, certain pay entitlements and less after-hours work. To help reduce the barriers to health care, there are often in-house specialist and allied health services which can be very convenient.
As the name suggests, there will also be a higher number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients that have a disproportionately higher rate of chronic illnesses which will be reflected in the nature of the consults, as opposed to seeing more acute illnesses (not to say these don’t present).
Working in an ACCHS opens your eyes to the barriers faced by many of the patients in accessing health care. To develop this understanding can only be a positive for any GP in training. BEACH data also suggests that many GP registrars see less chronic health conditions than their fellowed counterparts, and training in an AMS is one way to bridge that.
I would absolutely recommend working in an ACCHS to other registrars. If you feel you are up to the challenge then it is a very rewarding experience.