IT IS important for busy professionals to maintain networking contacts, particularly in the field of medicine and even more so in regional areas.
Social media has made it easier for a new Wagga-based group to provide that camaraderie and support specifically for female medical practitioners.
The burgeoning “Wagga and Surrounds - Women in Medicine” group has so far attracted members from Wagga, Gundagai, Griffith, Young and Temora.
Gundagai GP Barb Cameron helped organise it and was confident of further growth.
“Several of my colleagues and I had been discussing a potential group for some time,” Dr Cameron said. “There was a similar group many, many years ago.
“We had initially thought of setting up a face-to-face group as the starting process, but decided getting the word out and making links might be easier using social media.
“It’s only just starting, but we hope it will be an important part of the social and professional support for doctors of all stages and specialities.”
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The group includes many medical disciplines at all levels of training, from medical students to experienced practitioners.
Dr Cameron said it was important to have strong networks and access to the right support.
“Many professionals in regional centres may have relocated here to work and serve communities, often away from extended family support,” she said.
“Irregular work hours and shifts can contribute to difficulty settling in to communities and strong professional networks can be helpful.
“Working rurally, it can be isolating and we can't be as open as we might like within our smaller communities due to concerns around confidentiality. This group gives us an opportunity to discuss some of the clinical and professional challenges that we make decisions about on a daily basis and support one another.
“It also provides a forum to discuss the particular challenges of working as a woman in medicine.
“We are broader humans than ‘just doctors’. The work we do can be all-consuming and discussing with colleagues can allow us to find a better balance for ourselves.”
The existence of professional support groups might also be further encouragement for younger women to study and practise medicine in a regional area.
“Doctors continue to report that access to ongoing education and training, locum relief and professional support to avoid feeling isolated as key motivators for moving to and staying in a rural location,” Dr Cameron said.
“As busy professional women it can be easy to not have opportunities to catch up with colleagues.
“One of the main aims of this group is to help us to make time to catch up, to get together and decrease professional isolation, and to provide mentorship and support. It is both a professional and personal support network.”
Any female medical practitioners who would like to be a part of the group can get in touch by searching “Wagga and Surrounds - Women in Medicine” on Facebook.