About two weeks ago I got a call from my employer that I would be taken off my GP training program and be sent to “Town B” until further notice as there were not enough doctors. I would be required to move and start working there the following week. This was a bit of a shock as I was planning to go on vacation in 2 weeks and was looking forward to taking a break. You may be wondering, as I did, how they didn’t realize that they were missing doctors. Well it is holiday season and everyone needed to cover for everyone else.
So I moved to Town B on the border with Hungary. The town had made an effort and had ready accommodation waiting (above the kindergarten) for their new doctor. I was quite pleasantly surprised, the flat was fully furnished and quite spacious, and most importantly very close to the office.
The town has about 1700 inhabitants, and the closest regional center is about 15km away with a population of about 8000 people. There are three regional hospitals in the neighboring counties each approximately 40km away. There is a kindergarten and primary school. There is no public transport, train or bus lines that pass through the town so most people have at least one car. They have had difficulty finding a doctor and have been without a more permanent GP for over 3 years.
Working with the people here is quite similar as in an urban center and the office is adequately equipped. There are many elderly patients with multiple chronic conditions which may have been better monitored if there had been a full time GP present. It can be quite difficult to decide how to treat a complex patient that you see for the first time in a 10-15min consultation. The nurse has been extremely helpful as she has worked here for over 20 years, is a local and provides invaluable information.
– Not having a functioning computer system during your first week can be extremely frustrating
– your mobile phone will be confused and think you are in another country when you work this close to a border
– patients will not listen to your advice to rest when there is no one else to work in the field
– you don’t need to go shopping as much because when fruit & vegetables are in season they will be brought to you
– when going to home visits prepare to face farm animals
– patients will not visit you until they perceive their condition as serious enough
– the most common question is – will you be staying as our permanent doctor?
– as you walk around town people will notice you and say – “there goes our new doctor”