Kingaroy Hospital gives Grace a new experience each day!
The rustic rural landscapes of fields of dry grass dotted with old gum trees framed my first experience with the John Flynn Placement Program. As the sun rose, I would rise excited for the day ahead and go for a run along the Kingaroy rail trail. My mentor, Jill, organised a wide variety of placements at different departments at the Kingaroy Hospital and local clinics so that each and every day was different. These included: the emergency department, general surgery, child health clinic, antenatal clinic, wards, obstetrics and gynaecology, and a day visit to Cherbourg Hospital with some house visits. I took part in two professional development courses: Queensland Health Advanced Neonatal Resuscitation and the Emergency Medicine Education and Training, Basic and Advanced Life Support course. Then on weekends went hiking on the Bunya Mountains, visited Dusty Hill winery, went to the local Kingaroy church and watched the annual Kingaroy Christmas carols. I wish to share some stories from my time on placement, some experiences outside of the hospital in the community.
“He who studies medicine without books sails an uncharted sea, but he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all.” – William Osler
My experience in the Kingaroy Hospital and local outreach clinics into the community and beyond into Cherbourg were incredibly insightful. It was my first hands on experience in a hospital. The emergency department was always buzzing with patients coming and going. The doctors who were on shift in the ED were particularly supportive and very willing to teach me the ropes. Under their guidance and supervision, I performed a ring block which anaesthetized the finger, sutured the laceration to the finger and practiced cannulation.
On another occasion, we had a surgeon visiting from Brisbane who needed an assistant. Jill organised that I could assist in the general surgery schedule for the day. With a passion for surgery, this was a definite highlight of placement for me. I scrubbed in and headed in excited for the surgeries ahead. The rush of adrenaline standing in the operating theatre was exhilarating. The first procedure was a cholecystectomy where we removed the gall bladder which we did by key hole surgery. With one hand I was holding the camera and moving here and there as the surgeon requested while with the other hand I held various instruments. It was quite a juggling act but I loved every minute. I was ready for the next which was also a cholecystectomy. Then the final operation was an inguinal hernia repair. We were about midway when suddenly there was a code blue from the maternity suites and they needed an operating theatre. There was only one main operating theatre in Kingaroy Hospital. So the emergency was ushered into a minor procedure room where an emergency C-‐section was performed. While I was assisting by holding retractors and instruments we had a surge of all the nurses and anaesthetist leave to help with emergency. It was just myself, the surgeon and a nurse left in the room. As we neared the end and last sutured time, we suddenly realised that the pulse rate had dropped to 35 bpm and blood pressure plummeted. With no anaesthetist, there was a brief moment of frenzy before the nurse grabbed the atropine quickly injected it which then increased his pulse rate and blood pressure.It was also very insightful to visit Cherbourg and do home visits. I had previously been to Cherbourg during the year to help run a Teddy Bear Hospital at the local Cherbourg state school. However, to visit the homes of families with 10+ people living there, see their living conditions… I have a deeper appreciation and respect for the Indigenous culture after home visits in Cherbourg. I hope that together we can close the gap.
On the weekend, a few friends and I headed out to hike Bunya mountains. We arrived at the base of where the hike begins and there were around 20 or so wallabies all around the area. Just as we started the hike, there was a wallaby right on the track and we froze not knowing what to do. We didn’t want to get to close in case it wasn’t friendly yet also didn’t want to end our hike since we were only about 10 minutes in. So we waited and waited until it jumped straight into the rainforest and let us continue our hike. As we continued our hike, we came to realise that the forest was alive with wildlife. There beautiful birds brightly coloured red and blue singing to us and one another. We even stumbled across a green tree snake on the way back and luckily didn’t step on it.
I was warmly welcomed into the local Kingaroy community at church on Sunday. They were all so lovely and inclusive in sharing morning tea after the service. It was interesting to learn from a local perspective on the process of making the peanuts that Kingaroy is so famous for and rightly so. For instance, I learnt that the peanuts completely depend on the rain and there is no water irrigation system to them. That same evening rather than having their evening service, they were holding the combined churches Kingaroy Christmas carols. I invited along everyone in our student accommodation to come along and they all joined me to attend the carols. The whole town was in the heart of the town. We were all gathered together to watch. It was a very wholesome and wonderful night to share together. Overall, it was really lovely to spend time with such a great bunch of friends both new and old. In the evenings, after dinner we would play board games, cards or do some painting.
The John Flynn Placement was an incredible experience from a 3-dimensional perspective; that is, educationally, culturally and socially.
~ Grace Borchert, JFPP Scholar