Dr Kerby Siemsen recently commenced her return of service for the Australian Army and will be working from Lavarack Barracks. Before this, she was working on tropical Magnetic Island, in far north Queensland.
In 2018, Kerby graduated medicine from the University of New England (UNE), becoming the first female Aboriginal student and only the second Aboriginal medical student to graduate from UNE’s School of Rural Medicine since the introduction of the Joint Medical Program in 2008.
Kerby is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representative on the RACGPs GPs in Training Council.
Tell us a little bit about your background?
I grew up in a small town called Weethalle in rural NSW. I worked in the shearing sheds for a long time before starting medicine. I completed my medical degree with the UNE and completed my initial hospital training in Wagga Wagga, NSW, before heading to the Sunshine State to start my GP training.
Why did you choose general practice?
I chose general practice due to the flexibility that it offers. I am an avid horse rider and there really isn’t any other specialty that allows you to work and pursue your lifestyle like General Practice.
Specifically, why did you choose rural general practice?
I will always work rurally. I grew up in a small town, I went to school in a small town, I went to uni in a slightly bigger town. I don’t like the city very much — as you can see, I have avoided it until now.
What do like about working in a rural community?
Given that I grew up rurally, I know what to expect. I like the no fuss attitude and that everything you do as a doctor is appreciated.
What are your special interests? Are you pursuing any extended skills?
I have many special interests them being, mental health, which includes older people’s mental health – Dementia — and general mental health, general paediatrics, sports medicine, and women’s health. I would also really like to develop my procedural skills so I can offer the best to people in the bush. When you live rurally and remotely it’s hard to access services.
Any advice for doctors considering becoming a rural GP?
For anyone wanting to try the rural life just go for it. I guarantee you’ll keep wanting to come back for more. Yes, you don’t have the things at your fingertips like in the big city and some places like the supermarket closes at midday on Saturday, but you get to appreciate the larger centres more than you would if you lived there all the time.