Friendly locals and community spirit influence a medical career in the bush


Meeting friendly locals and experiencing strong community spirit in small towns have influenced medical student Grant Billingham’s decision to become a doctor in rural and remote Queensland.

Grant, a fifth year James Cook University medical student, is completing clinical experiences in Cloncurry and Mount Isa Hospitals in 2022.

His placement was coordinated by the James Cook University Murtupuni Centre for Rural and Remote Health Centre, which delivers rural training experiences for medical, nursing, midwifery, dental and allied health students.

Grant grew up in Wagga Wagga in New South Wales and at the age of 25, after trying his hand at various jobs around his home-town, he decided to study to become a doctor.

He said his clinical placements in Mount Isa and Cloncurry had reinforced his decision to work in rural and remote areas.

“It has confirmed to me that I’ll end up in the bush somewhere, ideally in a town with a strong community spirit where there is plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities to help balance the work-life dilemma,” he said

“I have enjoyed doing these placements because you get a lot more hands on and face-to-face experience on rural placements.

“Often you will be the only student around, so there are many opportunities for you to improve your skills and ask as many questions as you need.

“If you have any interest in the outdoors or even just want to experience a tight-knit community, then it is very worthwhile.

“I love the bush and the lifestyle that comes with it. I could never see myself living or even studying in a large metropolitan area.

“I’m biased, but even for students who don’t have an interest in rural medicine, I still think it is a great idea to enjoy a rural placement during study. 

“City doctors still treat country people, so it is useful to have some insight into how life can differ in rural and remote places and the additional challenges they may face.”

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