Dr Keith Gleeson

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Dr Keith Gleeson is a Dunghutti/Biripi man who grew up in Bombala in the Monaro region of south-eastern NSW. He has had a long career working in rural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Dr Keith Gleeson

Dr Gleeson grew up in a rural area, and so when he took up medicine, he naturally gravitated towards work in rural and country regions. He ended up in Taree, a place he has strong connections to through his family.

Although he spent seven years working at the Biripi AMS and has fond memories of his time there, he now finds himself driven to work where he is needed most, with his next stop Bombala, where he grew up. 

‘I don't want to see communities, particularly in rural and regional areas, suffer. That's what's driving me to do locum work, and also networking and the wonderful people who work in these environments, and their contributions to these communities that are in desperate need of good quality health services.’

As an Aboriginal man Dr Gleeson is also passionate about treating Aboriginal people and is very supportive of the role of AMS.

‘ AMS are … a vital piece of infrastructure in our health system across the country. Some AMS are probably the only GP clinic in town, and they serve quite a population.’

One of things that Dr Gleeson finds most attractive about rural medicine is the connection you can establish with the community and the freedom and opportunity to meet a lot of really interesting characters.

‘Most towns, they see doctors as vital, as a part of the actual community and they're quite welcoming. I see it wherever I go. I've seen farmers bringing eggs to the GPs and all sorts of produce. To me, that's precious to see that sort of in-kind demonstration of their appreciation.’

Dr Gleeson is realistic to the challenges, with access to services and travel costs as issues that stand out for him. He is particularly aware of how this can impact a patient’s willingness to travel, which affects their continuity of care. He also understands isolation and the challenges of dealing with distance in terms of access to specialist health services and the increased demand for healthcare within community. He has great admiration for the commitment of the many overseas doctors who travel to rural Australia to practice medicine, and is vocal about the need for strong supports to ensure they are successful in their roles. 

‘The challenges, that's what makes working in these environments unique. It's a beautiful country, it's worth getting out and seeing it.’

Dr Gleeson has benefited from the support of groups, such as the Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association, and access to contacts when he needs to reach out. He also calls on mentors and previous medical educators if he needs help.

‘You don't have to be on top of them all the time, but just somebody who you can feel comfortable to talk to that's not judgemental and makes you think and challenge your ideas if you need to be challenged in a way. Yeah, they're the sorts of things that make good mentors.’

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