Dr Deborah Peterson is training as a GP at the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service where she has found her passion is working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Why did you decide to become a rural GP?
It’s a long story, I didn’t start in medicine, I studied commerce, accounting and psychology, and ended up in the public service in Canberra doing budgeting for the Department of Finance.
While there I worked a bit on budgeting for the Department of Health, that’s how my interest in medicine brewed.
My exposure to being a GP had been minimal – I would have seen a GP when I was a child but it’s really been since graduating that I’ve engaged with rural practice. I’ve worked in the NT in Darwin, and WA in the Kimberley, so I’ve seen aspects of rural and remote medicine.
Why did you decide to train at the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service?
The Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS) is my second placement as a registrar. My first was in Newcastle, there were enjoyable aspects to my placement but I couldn’t see myself working there forever. I took up this placement to see if I liked it and the environment, and I do.
The teamwork at OAMS is fantastic, working directly with Aboriginal health workers and other staff is very collaborative.
I do home visits – I feel that’s doing something worthwhile, that wouldn’t generally happen in mainstream practice.
There is talk of closing the gap and improving life expectancy for Aboriginal people … I feel like I’m getting my hands dirty and doing something about it. I’m not just talking about it.
Training here is allowing me to explore long term options for working in Aboriginal health in the future.
Would you recommend training in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS)?
Yes, definitely – working in an Aboriginal medical service you get great support from within the service, it’s welcoming and everyone is prepared to teach and take you along for the ride.
It’s certainly worthwhile for some of your training if you get the chance.