Meet Dr Bell and Dr Foote

Doctor: four years of study have resulted in John Bell graduating from the Gippsland Medical School.

YOU’D make a good doctor.

Those words to John Bell from his wife Sue set in train four years of hard slog, resulting in the former social worker earning the title doctor.

He graduated last week from the Gippsland Medical School under an intake for people with degrees in other disciplines.

It’s been extraordinary hard work, but John has loved it.

“I’m relieved,” he said, “it’s been a pretty solid four years of training.”

The school was set up by Monash University at its Churchill campus, with the aim of training local people who would, hopefully, remain in their communities and help meet a shortage of medicos.

And, as John explained, provide the continuity that is so important in the general practice/patient relationship.

“The value in GPs is getting to know people and providing care and support over a long period.”

He and fellow South Gippslander, Veronica Foote, went through the medical school together.

Veronica grew up in Inverloch, went to St Joseph’s Primary School in Wonthaggi and Wonthaggi Secondary College. She has a degree in biotechnology and worked at Murray Goulburn Leongatha for 11 years before deciding she wanted to try something different.

She saw an article about the medical school program in a Monash graduates’ magazine and decided to apply.

Married with three young children, she knew it would be a tall order, but with support from her husband Michael and extended family living nearby, Veronica took it on.

“I enjoyed it, it was a privilege, but it was hard work. I’m very pleased I stuck with it and I’m looking forward to practising as a doctor.”

She and John have undertaken lots of local placements, including at Leongatha Healthcare.

The medical school started in 2008 and John and Veronica were in the intake the following year.

John said the first year was probably the most difficult because it was the first two years of a medical degree concertinaed into one. Without a science background, he was particularly challenged and had to work hard every day.

“It’s been a steep learning curve but nearly everyone in our year (there were 75) completed the course. That’s really impressive and shows the commitment.”

He said spending four years in an intense environment with a wide range of students had been wonderful.

“They are a most impressive bunch.”

John was a social worker at the Leongatha Memorial Hospital for eight years and during his medical training rounds, was pleased to meet up with people he knew from that period of his life.

He is also a wine maker but has had to let go of his Kongwak-grown Paradise Enough commercial label in order to concentrate on his medical studies.

John sees rural health as a top priority issue and he’s happy to contribute. He’s 59, but hopes to be able to practise medicine for at least the next 10 years.

“There’s a real need for GPs, visiting specialists and nursing staff in the community.”

Both John and Veronica aim to be GPs, which means a minimum of three more years of on-the-job training. First, they do an internship. John will be at Wonthaggi Medical Group and Wonthaggi Hospital emergency department for six months, before going to Frankston for a further six months. Veronica will mirror image that.


Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=5902

Posted by on Dec 27 2012. Filed under Community, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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