Karina's Three Weeks at Harvey

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For 3 weeks in late November/December I travelled from my hometown of Sydney to Harvey, a 2 hour train ride south of Perth in Western Australia.

My mentor was Dr Ramesh Kannan at Harvey Medical Group, Harvey. He is a talented GP who had trained in Australia and Malaysia and had spent one year in Harvey in which time he had earned a reputation as being a friendly and knowledgeable practitioner. I also spent some time with the other doctors in the practice including Dr Nina, Dr Gauchen, Dr Wu, Dr Mike, and Dr Singh, as well as spending a morning with the phlebotomist endorsed by the practice, Julie.

Dr Kannan was particularly skilled at skin excisions and I assisted in many minor skin procedures. Other skills that I carried out included giving IM injections, removing sutures, freezing skin lesions, testing BSL and INR and performing ear washes. Other procedures that I observed included the removal of a foreign object from the eye, ultrasound guided injections and drawing blood at the local pathology collection centre. I also learnt a lot about patient care and communication whilst on placement, including the skill of breaking bad news; discussing lifestyle changes involving weight, sugar control and cholesterol management; alcohol/drug/smoking reduction and managing chronic diseases.

Harvey, whilst a small town of roughly 5000 people, has the advantage of being relatively close to major centres including Bunbury (a 30 minute drive) and Perth (a 1.5 hour drive). This meant that most patients had access to extensive imaging and treatment options.

Harvey is famous for its oranges, wine and cattle and the major industries in the town are Harvey Beef and Harvey Fresh. As such, many patients described their lifestyle as centring around shift-work and I saw many work-related injuries including musculoskeletal injuries and skin lacerations. Furthermore, many people in the area participated in FIFO work up North which again posed limitations in treatment options for some conditions.

Whilst in Harvey, I stayed with Emma and Michael Hutchings and their two children Melanie (aged 6) and Liam (aged 3). They were a very welcoming and friendly family and I greatly enjoyed being involved in a family of small children. Weekdays involved playing with the children in the backyard and helping with chores such as cooking dinner and bathing the kids. On the weekends, we visited Harvey Dam, went 4-wheeled-driving on the beach at Myalup, and visited the Bunbury Christmas Pageant. Dr Kannan also took me to visit his home in Eaton one evening, and I was warmly welcomed by his wife and children and we went for a walk and dinner on the beach in Bunbury. On the final night before heading home, Harvey hosted its annual Gala Night in the main street and we were entertained with singing and dancing, market stalls and a visit from Santa.

Overall I greatly enjoyed my time in Harvey and feel very lucky to be placed with a such welcoming host family and medical practice.

~ Karina Brown, JFPP Scholar

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