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Filling in gaps and giving doctors a break

Dr Claire Cupitt is a country GP living near the regional city of Goulburn, half way between Sydney and Canberra. Having worked in the country for most of her career, when the time came to slow down, Dr Cupitt made the decision to continue providing locum support to country practices in short supply of doctors.

Dr Claire Cupitt’s horses Milo and Echo in the Victorian Alps.

Dr Cupitt came across RWAV’s Specialist GP Locum Program six years ago and has frequented communities in North Eastern Victoria as a locum GP ever since. The program has taken her to the towns of Beechworth, Omeo, Corryong and Tallangatta.

“I struggled all those years desperately needing more doctors as a country GP, and I just feel like I should help out while I can. That’s why I do it,” Dr Cupitt says.

“Lots of semi-retired doctors are doing it, like I do. We’ve got a lot of experience and we have a lot to offer. Filling in gaps and giving doctors a break, that’s my main aim.”

Photos from Dr Cupitt’s placement in Omeo.

With young grandchildren, Dr Cupitt opts for placements no longer than four weeks at a time, although in total she is away for half a year providing locum services. Dr Cupitt brings a slice of home with her on each placement, in the form of her two horses – Echo and Milo.

“I actually take my horses with me every place I go for my mental health and exercise. Wherever I go, the town has to provide me with a paddock or somewhere to put the horse. Which is an added challenge for them.

“But what I’ve found is within a few days, somebody in the community really opens up very generously and says I’ve actually got something that could be suitable for you. They listen to what I’m saying and so far, it’s always turned out alright.

Echo and Milo pictured in Tallangatta and Omeo.

“I like RWAV because they smooth the way to a locum position. RWAV ask if I still need a paddock for Echo. I feel I have support when they know my horse’s name.”

When she’s not on the road, Dr Cupitt spends her time between baby-sitting and teaching commitments and part-time GP work in Goulburn.

“When I’m home, I just do some local work in Goulburn. I try to limit that to one or two days a week because I’ve always got jobs and babysitting to do. I also have a teaching program which takes up a fair bit of my time. I’m involved with teaching remote registrars with RVTS, and that involves two workshops a year, plus visits to my registrars and a variety of other things.”

When asked about how best to prepare yourself for doing locum work in the country, Dr Cupitt emphasises the importance of openness to community and good communication skills.

“Most people who are considering it are going to be open. You do it because you care.”

The RWAV Specialist GP Locum Program supports doctors with rural medical experience to secure locum work in regional Victoria and establish connections with country practices. If you’re interested in taking up locum work, learn more here or browse our vacancies here.

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