Rural nurse shares passion for outback healthcare

Read time

Image for Rural nurse shares passion for outback healthcare

Croydon Primary Health Clinic co-director Mark Goodman

No two days are the same for Mark Goodman.

The co-director of Croydon Primary Health Centre sees everything from infections and injuries to mental health challenges and heart attacks. It’s a role where anything and everything is thrown at him and ‘you don’t know what you will be doing in 10 minutes’ time’.

Mark is encouraging others to get into rural and remote work, for the ongoing education and career opportunities, and the incredible people and landscapes.

‘Rural and remote nursing is an awesome career where you are challenged personally and professionally. I’ve found a job I didn’t think existed where I get work/life balance.

‘There are lots of communities, particularly up in the Cape with five to six nurses. You can work in a supported environment. You’re probably never going to work in a hospital again after you’ve done it.’

Mark loads up the true crime podcasts for the six-hour drive from his Kuranda home to Croydon each fortnight. He stays in one of the units attached to the clinic and will work a nine-day fortnight followed by five days at home to unwind.

The team of five people at Croydon include Mark and clinic co-director of Nursing Anita Clauss-Jones, a Registered Nurse and midwife, along with locals including a groundsman, cleaner and receptionist, who also drive the ambulance. They serve a population of about 200 people at Croydon and up to 300 people in the 37,500sq km the clinic covers, which is an area more than half the size of Tasmania.

‘We try and maintain preparation for everything, from childbirth to resuscitations to acute injuries,’ Mark said. ‘Mainly it’s low-level primary healthcare. We get flying doctors in to take patients out on average every three weeks for an acute evacuation. Royal Flying Doctor Service also provides a weekly GP service and fortnightly Child Health Nurse.

‘The great thing about Croydon is it’s the first remote clinic I’ve worked in where I’ve had time to provide primary health care. Anywhere else I’ve worked you’re pretty much dealing with acute clients that walk through the door. It allows me to get out there and see people in their homes, call people in and actually do some preventative care as opposed to just dealing with the acute. Trying to get country people into the clinic is challenging. They will admit they are almost allergic to coming in.’

Mark has worked extensively in remote areas throughout Australia, and regularly travels the country teaching courses on remote and emergency care and paediatric care.

‘With remote nursing, I just wanted a challenge and to be able to work to my full scope. I really enjoyed working in the remote environment where you have that independence and to manage whatever you’re faced with no matter what it is.

‘My partner wanted us to own a house as opposed to living in remote communities. I’ve managed to keep my love of remote work and she’s got the house and dog she wanted. My days off I don’t think about work, I don’t get called by work. It’s a really nice balance.’