For the first time, Stanthorpe Hospital has hosted a doctor from Japan as part of an international collaboration between the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service’s Queensland Country Practice and Japan’s developing Rural Generalist Program.
Dr Shinya Aoki, as well as his wife and three children, visited the Granite Belt to learn more about how doctors are supported in rural locations through the Queensland Rural Generalist Program.
"Japan has 400 islands with rural populations declining and not enough rural doctors," Director, Medical and Clinical Services, Queensland Country Practice, Dr Dilip Dhupelia said. "Like many countries, Japan needs to produce doctors with rural generalist skills."
Dr Dhupelia said, as yet, Japan did not have formal training for doctors who wish to gain generalist skills, which led to an agreement to offer aspiring Japanese Rural Generalists rotations in Queensland.
"Initially as ‘clinical observers’, the Japanese Rural Generalists will spend up to three months in rural or remote locations in Queensland to learn more about the roles and challenges of Queensland Rural Generalists," he said.
Dr Aoki spent a month in Stanthorpe under the supervision of the hospital’s medical superintendent Dr Dan Halliday.
"It was an eye-opening experience learning more about the hospital and its involvement with other groups like Griffith University," Dr Aoki said. "I’ve enjoyed my time here."
Dr Halliday said staff and patients at the hospital also benefitted from Dr Aoki’s visit.
"Shinya asked lots of questions which was great and really reminded us why we do things in a certain way and the clinical reasons for our decisions," he said.
Dr Aoki will also spend time in Emerald under the stewardship of Dr Ewen McPhee and in Longreach under Dr John Douyere.
The Queensland Rural Generalist Program was instigated in 2005 by a group of medical officers keen to develop a supported training pathway for doctors interested in rural medicine.
The program has grown greatly with almost 300 medical officers currently involved in the program.
Doctors can enter the program at various stages of their career, and can specialise in mental health, adult internal medicine, anaesthetics, obstetrics and paediatrics.