JFPP 2015 – A South Oz Adventure

In January 2015 I spent two weeks in a little town called Cleve. For many reasons those two weeks felt like two months. Almost all of the reasons were good, one wasn’t. Like the people I met in Cleve, I try to be a ‘glass-half-full’ kind of person so will focus on the good and touch on the bad only briefly. Let me tell you about my South Australian adventure.

When my location assignment email came through from Sean, on behalf of ACRRM, ‘Where?!?’ was my first thought. I had visited South Australia a few times but never made it far from Adelaide and certainly never taken the extra flight over to the Eyre Peninsula (nor the bus that followed the preceding three flights). I met Donna-marie, or Dolce, as I jumped of the bus in the centre of town. I soon learnt that Dolce was all motherly character and warm smiles. She was my ‘Placement Mum’ and I felt at home immediately.

That afternoon Dolce showed me around town (this took about 12 minutes) and said she be back in an hour to take me out to dinner. I checked into the nurses quarter, without the knowledge that they were haunted of course, and unloaded my suitcase. I had the famous chicken schnitzel for dinner, falling a little more in love with Cleve as I took each bite. Day two was filled with paddle-boarding, a walk on the beach and spectacular views. I met my mentor Gail and her family that afternoon. Her husband Hitchy and I got stuck into home made whisky and he taught me to shuck oysters. I was assured that the medical side of the placement would start soon. Yep, falling in love with Cleve.

Now to the medicine, I was spread between three towns with three different doctors on rotating shifts. I was thrown in the deep end but I was handed floaties as I bobbed up gasping. The support and teaching was fantastic, it was the definition of ‘hands-on’. I learnt skills, I practiced examinations, I spoke to patients, I saw the best of some and the worst of others. It was an amazing two weeks and on reflection, it’s clear I hit the jackpot with my allocation to Cleve.

I’ve completed two of my eight weeks and honestly can’t wait to go back. I miss my placement mum and mentor, I miss the teaching and the community. I have no doubt the good is the bulk of the reason my trip felt far longer than the dates on the calendar. To make brief mention of the bad, I had been married for a total of two weeks when I jumped on the plane to head away. The bad was that I missed my new wife.

The John Flynn Placement Program is a truly wonderful thing. I left Cleve all smiles, both because I had a wonderful experience and because I was on the way home.


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