Parallel Rural Community Curriculum Alumni Jacinta Clark

A female doctor stands outside a hospital.

Current position: Pre-vocational obstetrics and gynaecology registrar, Mount Gambier Hospital

Tell us a little bit about your journey to get to this point.

I moved from Mount Gambier to Adelaide when I was 18 to study. I was pretty set on medicine at the time but didn’t get in straight out of school so did a degree in Medical Science and when I graduated applied for post graduate medicine at Flinders. I did my intern year at Lyell McEwin Hospital, then spent two years as a general medical officer working in general medicine and obstetrics across Northern and Central Adelaide. I’ve also worked the last two years as a casual medical officer for Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault service performing forensic medical examination and medical care post sexual assault. This year I’ve taken on a pre-vocational obstetrics and gynaecology registrar position here in Mount Gambier with a goal of eventually completing my obstetrics and gynaecology specialist training.

Was there a particular event that led you to medicine or what was your deciding factor in choosing to study medicine?

I chose medicine when I was 18, looking back I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. At the time I was volunteering with World Vision and wanted to work somewhere in the development sector – I knew that the best way to do that was to have a relevant skill. I was a good science student, my drama teacher at the time mentioned to me “you’ve always struck me as a doctors without borders type” which seemed like the coolest thing in the world and so I chose medicine as a path.

As I went through my degrees and learnt more about public health and development I found my reasons for choosing medicine and sticking with medicine really changed. I continue to choose medicine every day because I love the science and the brilliant teams I get to work with. I love the profound impact that practicing good medicine can have on patients and their families lives and I appreciate the real gift it is that I am able to be there for them through some of the biggest and hardest moments of their lives.

Why did you choose Flinders and the PRCC program and did it impact on your career direction?

I chose PRCC because it was a chance to come home to Mount Gambier for 12 months of my training and because rural training offered a more hands-on opportunity. I’m not sure how much it influenced my career direction (perhaps time will tell?) but I think I was always quite open to and even keen to pursue rural practice because of where I grew up so I can’t honestly say it changed my mind on that. I think the chance to be here re-affirmed my thoughts around rural practice and gave me a chance to see how other doctors had taken that path.

What area of medicine did you want to practice in when you were studying and has that changed since graduation?

I changed my mind monthly on what I was going to do. When I finished my undergraduate degree I was certain I wanted to be an oncologist, then I changed my mind every two weeks after that until my PRCC year actually. In my third year here in Mount Gambier I had my first exposure to obstetrics and gynaecology and I haven’t really changed my mind again since. Right now I’m working towards a future career in gynaecology and sexual health.

Did or do you have a mentor and if so, how has that helped you?

The PRCC program very intentionally set us up with a team of mentors during our third year here and it made an incredible difference to our experience. Being in the one place meant we had a team who knew us and was invested in us around us. Our GP supervisor Dr Scott Milan at Hawkins took time out of his clinic every week to do exam prep with us. Dr Julie Tullett at Hawkins took us all on as mentees and supported us through the year. Especially when you don’t come from a medical family (which I didn’t) that PRCC family around us to guide us really made a world of difference.

Describe a typical workday.

Typically, my day starts at 8am on the labour ward to take handover from the doctor who was on overnight. Then we’ll see all of our patients in the hospital, people in labour, postnatal women, post-operative patients. And then each day gets a little different. Some days I’ll spend on the ward busy with labouring patients, other days I can attend the operating theatre, once a week I have a clinic where I see outpatients – we see any patients who come into the emergency department with a gynaecology related problem. When things are quiet I work on research, or sneak home to get some rest and food before I’m back at the hospital for a delivery at night.

Can you describe a memorable moment/case in your career as a rural doctor?

It’s still pretty early in my career as a rural doctor, I’m only about eight weeks in.  One thing that was quite cool in my first week was getting to meet a baby I helped deliver in Adelaide a few months earlier. While I was working at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital we received a transfer patient from Mount Gambier with severe pre-eclampsia and ended up delivering her 27-week-old baby by caesarean – we visited that baby every night. My first week here in Mount Gambier that baby who had been at the Women’s and Children’s since his birth was transferred back to Mount Gambier Hospital and we got to be a part of the team that welcomed him and his Mum back.

What would you say to others that may be considering either a career as a rural GP or studying medicine?

I would say it’s bloody hard work and you’ve got to really want it. But there’s nothing else like it, we’re really privileged to get to do what we do. Especially if you choose to work rurally you really do have this opportunity to serve the community and get to know a community and make a difference.

How would you describe yourself and your personality?

I’m not entirely sure how to answer this, I’m a junior doctor who is really passionate about public health and access to health care especially for women, LGBTIQ+ patients and rural patients.

What are your hobbies – what do you do for down time from work and how do you balance work, life and family?

Work life balance is always hard in medicine – though admittedly has been easier working rurally. In my free time I like read and draw, see friends, there’s some study, and I volunteer for two organisations that I really love – The Pinnacle Foundation and QueersinScience.

Do you have a rural background?

I grew up in Mount Gambier, I attended McDonald Park Primary and Grant High School, my Mum’s family are from Robe, I’m pretty sure my parents met in Robe – proper local! My parents and grandmother still live here in the Mount.

Learn more about Flinders University Rural and Remote Health SA

Posted in

Leave a Reply