Dr Sarah Jane McEwan

Choose to be a GP > Stories > Dr Sarah Jane McEwan

A Wiradjuri woman and remote GP living and working in Port Hedland, Western Australia.

Dr Sarah Gleeson

Tell us about the community you live and work in

I moved to Port Hedland as a locum in 2009 after first coming to the region as a medical student in 2001. I’ve now been here for several years. Port Hedland is a melting pot of people from all over Australia. It is truly a unique location – the gorgeous landscape, the intact Indigenous culture and the diversity of people brought about by the fly-in fly-out worker population – all adding to the charm of the place.

Describe the diversity of services provided and the skills needed

I work out of the hospital setting, balancing my time in the emergency department and maternity, wherever the need is greatest. I deal with high acuity, together with emergency trauma and general practice-type presentations. The presentation rate is around 35% Indigenous patients, but the remote setting presents a diverse cross-section of people. It’s a constant struggle attending to all types of presentations with very few resources. This, combined with an acute shortage of GPs, infrequent access to specialist support and the added load of trauma and workplace accidents from the mine, requires determination.

What was your most memorable patient or patient encounter?

There are moments that make it all worthwhile, like the time I was able to deliver an Aboriginal patient with an Aboriginal midwife. Apart from the obvious joy of the birth, it was also a moment where it felt like we were finally seeing progress. It shows there is a bright future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical practitioners. Eventually, we will make a difference and be able to better challenge the views of mainstream health and bring to focus the struggles our people face.

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