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Miwatj Health Centre is an Aboriginal Medical Service that stands tall and proud when it comes to general practice training and service provision in Arnhem Land. It recently won Training Post of Year at the NTGPE Awards Night.

Dr Wendy Page has worked and supervised at Miwatj Health Centre for many years and continues to have an unwavering passion for what it means to be a GP supervisor in the Northern Territory. These are her insights into why remote health and supervision is so important.

(photo caption Dr Wendy Page pictured fourth from the left, stands proudly in front of Miwatj Health Centre)

What are the main differences supervising in a remote setting in the NT compared to one in a major city?

Smaller communities give a feeling that you can be part of an extended family. There are no traffic lights and perhaps an extra two hours in the day that might have otherwise been spent commuting in city traffic.

Who influenced you to become a GP supervisor?

Back in the 1980’s I was a Family Medicine Program (FMP) trainee and I greatly appreciated the support I had from more experienced GPs – mentors, medical educators – I’m not sure if the term ‘ supervisor’ was used then.

In 1984-85, I worked for two years in Tonga, and I was awarded six months special skills from FMP. I greatly appreciated support from my medical educator in Sydney who corresponded by snail mail over my ‘self-directed learning plan’, reducing my sense of professional isolation.

In the early 1990’s in Miwatj region, Dr Sam Heard and Drs Max and Elizabeth Chalmers come to mind in encouraging Miwatj (and I) to take on GP registrars. Many GP registrars have come through Miwatj and have been a backbone to providing health services to the region. Some fellows have come back and contributed years to this region. Dr Stephen Bryce, Dr Nick Tumman, Dr Olivia O’Donoghue, Dr Hung The Nguyen, Dr Penny Ramsay to name a few.

What motivates you to be a GP supervisor?

GP registrars are our future GPs and we have a responsibility to support the next generation, as the generation before have supported us.

What’s your favourite part of being a GP supervisor?

The enthusiasm and openness to learning and commitment to providing the best health care we can, is what I see in GP registrars.

What is your advice to a GP supervisor who may be interested in coming to a remote clinic?

Miwatj needs GP supervisors so that in partnership with community we can work to close the gap in areas of need. The patients are our teachers and they have so much to teach us when we can hear their stories and support their journey for improved health outcomes.

Working amongst Yolngu people in NE Arnhem Land has been for me the best job in the world. A side benefit is the opportunity to meet with inspirational health professionals sharing our journey.