Port Augusta doctor recognised for her passion for health care in an area of need

  • Amanda Bethell and Daniel Byrne

Amanda Bethell at work, and with Daniel Byrne. Photos: GPEx

Dr Amanda Bethell is a General Practitioner based at The Old Base Medical Centre in Port Augusta and a supervisor to registrars in the Australian General Practice Training /GPEx training program. GPEx recently sat down with Amanda to chat about her life as a rural GP.

Firstly, congratulations on being named the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) 2017 SA and NT GP of the Year and most recently, the 2017 national RACGP GP of the Year! Were you expecting these awards?

Thank you! I had no idea that I had been nominated until I received a phone call from the (then) state president, Dr Daniel Byrne, to congratulate me on the first award! I was shocked, surprised and delighted.

What a wonderful achievement. You must be very passionate about delivering better health care; where does this come from?

I have a God-given heart for people and believe everyone has a right to their place on the planet. I believe wellness is much more than the absence of illness. My time spent in remote central Australia taught me the importance of art and ritual as well as hygiene, employment and family in health care.

What attracted you to undertake general practice as your preferred medical speciality?

I grew up in Mount Gambier and always intended to return to the country. Rural general practice was encouraged during my undergraduate years. I toyed with the idea of obstetrics and gynaecology, psychiatry and physician training, however, it does not offer the full breadth of care that general practice offers; preventative, acute, chronic and emergency medicine. I love the problem solving that you need to do when there are no guidelines for the situation in front of you.

Do you think being from the country is what drew you to work in regional South Australia?

I’ve been drawn to working in an area of need and always intended to return to the country or do mission work overseas. It was at an interview with a mission organisation, where my husband and I realised that we were much more passionate about Australian health care than third world health. We chose Port Augusta because my husband had worked there before and enjoyed it. We felt it was where God wanted us to be.

I imagine that the registrars that you mentor benefit from your worldly experience. What do you most enjoy about being a GPEx supervisor?

I really enjoy the collegiality, the shared learning and team-problem solving of tricky situations. I think many doctors at times have a touch of ‘imposter syndrome’ and sharing what I’ve learned over the years with my registrars reassures me that I probably do know something!

What is it like living in Port Augusta?

Port Augusta is a lovely town. It’s the sort of place where the kids can roam without us having to worry too much.  Being the ‘cross roads of Australia’ and close to the Flinders Ranges, it has a touristy feel.

What is your favourite activity when you’re not working?

I enjoy camping and bushwalking. My husband and I have just spent the weekend in and around Wilpena Pound - the scenery is spectacular. It’s pretty hard to beat sitting around a campfire in the bush with a glass of red and something delicious cooking in the camp oven!

For more information on being a GPEx supervisor and how medical practices can become accredited with GPEx, visit gpex.com.au.

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