‘ 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.’