Fall in love and stay in Lismore, MP urges MDs

FRESH BLOOD: (back row) Drs Gonzalo de Angulo, Andrew Burgess, Sam Wotherspoon and Chris Bentley; (front row) Drs Lucy McKenzie, Kirstin Coggins,and Hayley Edmonds.
FRESH BLOOD: (back row) Drs Gonzalo de Angulo, Andrew Burgess, Sam Wotherspoon and Chris Bentley; (front row) Drs Lucy McKenzie, Kirstin Coggins,and Hayley Edmonds.

SAM Wotherspoon was born in Lismore Base Hospital 23 years ago.

He grew up in Lismore, went to Trinity Catholic College, and enjoyed good health, so he had no reason to go back to the hospital ... until he started working there as an intern this week.

Dr Wotherspoon passed his medical exams at the University of Newcastle and opted to spend two years in a "regional or remote" hospital, nominating Lismore as his place of choice.

"I'm on an intern rotation that means I spend a year experiencing emergency, general surgery, and general medical wards, as well as two other kinds of medicine of my choice," Dr Wotherspoon said. "Then I'll be qualified for provisional registration."

Dr Wotherspoon applied to spend two years here under the Rural Preferential Recruitment (RPR) program, set up to encourage young doctors to work in regional and remote parts of Australia. Eight of the 13 interns who started work at Lismore Base Hospital have come through the RPR program; the others have come through Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

"I wanted to come to Lismore because I grew up and went to school in Lismore."

Dr Wotherspoon said he had not yet decided whether he wanted to follow a medical speciality.

"I want to experience lots of different branches of medicine before I decide that," he said.

Also among the intake of interns this year at Lismore is Gonzalo de Angulo, who had qualified as a doctor in his native Colombia and worked as a paramedic for 12 years - eight of them with the ambulance and helicopter service at Lismore - while gaining his Australian medical qualifications. One of his two children was born at Lismore Base Hospital and he is happy to be working there now.

Welcoming the interns to the town, Lismore MP Thomas George said he had grown up here and the facilities at the Base Hospital now were "a dream" compared with the past.

"I want to thank you for wanting to come and work in regional Australia," Mr George said.

"I hope you'll have a Bachelors and Spinsters barbecue one evening, and that you will all fall in love with someone who lives in the district so we can keep you all here."

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