Airdate: Desperately Seeking Doctors

SBS previously brought us Desperately Seeking Sheila, a concept which Nine more or less modified into Farmer Wants a Wife. Now it’s applying the idea to the plight of rural communities struggling to maintain health professionals.

Desperately Seeking Doctors is a three part series looking at Australia’s doctor crisis. Despite extensive domestic and international recruitment campaigns, doctors are leaving some rural communities faster than they can be replaced.

The first episode follows Dr Mary Fortune from Scotland, as she accepts a position in Kalgoorlie and medical student Nabilah Islam, who has a four week placement in Wagin, southwest Western Australia.

It premieres Tuesday, January 6 at 7.30pm on SBS.

Press Release:
For the residents and councils of many rural Australian communities, maintaining a reliable health care service is a constant challenge. Despite extensive domestic and international recruitment campaigns, doctors are leaving some rural communities faster than they can be replaced.

Earlier this year the Federal Health Minister said the rural health system in Australia was ‘a dire state of affairs’, and promised a complete overhaul of workforce incentives and programs. But when the Government announced its budget allocation a few weeks later, it was met with a disappointed response from both the Australian Medical Association and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia.

Beginning on SBS on Tuesday January 6 at 7.30pm, Desperately Seeking Doctors is a three part documentary series which reveals the personal stories behind the doctors’ crisis in Australia. How do rural communities cope with Australia’s doctor shortage? Who are the doctors working in these roles, and what are their views on rural health services? How prepared are medical students to take positions in the bush, and how do the residents of rural communities feel about the future of their health care?

Over three episodes, Desperately Seeking Doctors follows the bush experience of Scottish GP Dr Mary Fortune, who answered an international call-out for Australian doctors, Indian born Dr Alan Majid, and two medical students Jen Martins and Nabilah Islam, who also happen to be close friends.

Ep 1: UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY Tuesday, January 6 at 7.30pm

Dr Mary Fortune leaves her home, family and friends in Scotland to answer the cries for help from the mining town of Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia. Despite knowing she will miss her son, and husband of 22 years, Dr Mary is excited about the challenge of moving to Kalgoorlie and optimistic about what the experience will be like.

Dr Mary’s arrival is welcome news for Kalgoorlie residents, who have been struggling to attract doctors for some time. “If you go on holidays,” says local Dr Andrew Siegmund “we don’t have someone to fill that gap.

But it’s not just Kalgoorlie struggling with staffing issues. The residents of Wagin have just been told their only doctor, Dr Alan Majid has resigned after only four months of his three year contract. “Why have the previous four doctors left?”, asks Dr Majid, What is wrong? There has to be some problem somewhere”.

Despite his resignation, Dr Majid has agreed to stay in Wagin to teach medical student Nabilah Islam, during her country medicine term. Nabilah’s four week placement in Wagin will be the first time she has ever travelled without her parents. Amidst the town politics of Wagin, how will Nabiliah cope away from home, and how will she find working under supervision of disgruntled Dr Majid?

One Comment:

  1. Show was supposed to be about rural towns needing doctors; instead it seemed to be about a little girl (Nabilah Islam?) “playing doctor” when really she needs to grow up (emotionally) before she can help others.

    The teaching doctor (Majid?) was far from supportive, but hardly harsh. He probably assumed a final year student to be an adult, alas Nabilah resembled more a early high school level of maturity.

    Both personalities were annoying – yet neither related to the topic “Desperately seeking doctors” except maybe Nabilah being non-doctor material yet with near doctor qualifications.

    Conclusion from show is WA universities maybe are passing students that don’t have the maturity to actually work in the real world – but I fear this was NOT the intended conclusion even though it’s the only one I see.

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