Armidale's newest GP describes himself as 'a true rural doctor' who has made the tree change to regional Australia.
Having grown up on Sydney's Northern Beaches, Dr Jack Hodges studied medicine at Armidale University, completed his training exclusively in rural locations and recently joined Ochre Medical Centre Armidale.
"I just didn't feel the urge to go back to the city after living here," Dr Hodges said.
"There was just no appeal. I wanted to do rural and regional general practice and gain emergency department experience, so why not stay in the bush throughout?"
Dr Hodges, who has also captained the local first grade football team, went on to work across rural NSW from Broken Hill to Griffith before returning to Armidale, the place he now sees as home.
He also tells of a brief stint in remote Western Australia. In an emergency, the team generally had to wait for at least four hours for a response unless a plane happened to be in the area and was able to divert.
"I did a three week locum in Halls Creek, a remote Aboriginal community in the desert about 800 km east of Broome," Dr Hodges said.
"It was just me and two other doctors supported by a few excellent nurses looking after a community of a couple of thousand people. If we needed backup, we relied on the Royal Flying Doctor Service. So you just had to patch patients up and hold things together until help arrived!"
One day a patient came in with abdominal pain so bad he was writhing around on the floor in agony, forcing Dr Hodges to out his basic ultrasound skills to use.
"His blood pressure was dropping and he was starting to look terrible," Dr Hodges said.
"When I scanned him, I was able to identify that his spleen had somehow been cut in half. He said he had been punched in the side but he had no idea it had caused that level of damage."
The rest of the day was spent with Dr Hodges watching the skies anxiously for the Royal Flying Doctors aircraft.
"Because, while I could give him basic care, I didn't have the equipment or the support to solve the problem that was killing him," said Dr Hodges.
"We had to make do until the Royal Flying Doctor Service arrived and flew him to Perth for an emergency procedure. In the end he recovered, but it was a stressful day."
While he values the experience of remote working, Dr Hodges says these days he is interested in health maintenance , men's health, adult and paediatric medicine and minor procedures such as minor skin surgery and joint injections.
"I really like general practice and forging ongoing relationships," he said.
"The most rewarding procedures are for osteoarthritis of the knee."
A patient might be 48 with severe arthritis of the knee because he used to play footy and he's been a mechanic for 20 years with a knee so painful he can barely work and he's in agony when he gets out of bed in the morning. But those cases tend to respond really well to pain-relieving injections according to Dr Hodges.
"He's too young for a knee replacement, but he's really impacted by the pain," Dr Hodges said.
"He will go from hobbling into the procedure to striding out with full movement and minimal pain, and be good for the next three to six months.
"There's not much in medicine where you can improve somebody's quality of life that quickly."
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