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Thursday Island Hospital GP named Australian Registrar of Year

1 November 2019

Thursday Island Hospital GP registrar Dr Allison Hempenstall has won a prestigious national award for her dedication to healthcare provision in the Torres Strait and commitment to public health.

She has just been named the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine–Rural Doctors Association of Australia (ACRRM–RDAA) Registrar of the Year for 2019.

Dr Hempenstall provides primary and emergency care across the Torres Strait.

RDAA President Dr John Hall said her dedication to the communities of the Torres Strait and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health was truly inspiring.

“While the medical care she is providing on Thursday Island is bringing immediate benefits for the local community, her commitment to public health research has real potential to benefit many generations into the future,’’ he said.

ACRRM President Dr Ewen McPhee said Dr Hempenstall was being recognised for the immense commitment she had made not only to her local community, but also to the profession of rural medicine.

“She has given a substantial amount of time in representing the interests and needs of rural GP registrars through ACRRM, and to promoting rural medicine as a rewarding career choice,’’ he said.

“She has also been a valued member of the ACRRM Registrar Committee for the past two years and is the current Chair.

“She is committed to improving the training experience for ACRRM registrars across the country. Her love for medical education extends beyond ACRRM and she is currently a Medical Educator for James Cook University.

“We warmly commend Allison on receiving this Award Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Tony Brown said Dr Hempenstall was a worthy recipient of the award.

He said Dr Hempenstall first arrived on Thursday Island as a junior Resident Medical Officer in 2016 and then returned as a Registrar with the Generalist Medical Training Program in 2018.

“Since then, she has dedicated her time and energy to delivering quality health services in the Torres Strait, as well as demonstrating significant leadership skills and helping inspire the next generation of medical and Indigenous health professionals,’’ he said.

Dr Brown said Dr Hempenstall was passionate about public health and tropical medicine and dedicated to Indigenous health to Close the Gap.

“This year she secured more than $80,000 in research funding to support the full-time employment of an Indigenous Research Officer, building local research capacity in the Torres Strait,’’ he said.

“She has led the year-long Cellulitis Outpatient Intravenous Antibiotic Study (COAST) study on skin infections and their treatment in the Torres Strait.

“She is also a co-investigator on the Rapid Acute Paediatric Infection Diagnosis in Sepsis (RAPIDS) study, and the Characterising Hepatitis B Molecular Epidemiology in Far North Queensland (CHARM) study aiming to improve sepsis and hepatitis B management in the Torres Straits.’’

Dr Hempenstall said she felt very privileged and honoured to have won the Registrar of the Year award.

“But I’d also like to recognise all the other registrars throughout Australia working hard and dedicating their time and energy to delivering vital health services in their rural communities,’’ she said.

“They are all just as worthy of this award.’’

Dr Hempenstall said her long-term career goal was to move into public health with a focus on global primary care and sustainable community-driven models of healthcare. But for the time being she said she was privileged to continue serving the Torres Strait Islander community.

“The people of the Torres Straits have shown me the importance of community, family, culture and land – a gift that I will forever be grateful for,’’ she said.

Last updated: 20 November 2019