Medical tour a chance for ‘catharsis’ after difficult 2020

Anastasia Tsirtsakis

25/12/2020 11:03:36 AM

Dr Matt Young is leading a seven-day medical study tour from Alice Springs to Darwin that will give GPs insight into NT healthcare.

Nitmiluk Gorge
The tour includes a cruise along Nitmiluk Gorge.

It is not every day that you meet a GP with a degree in archaeology and diploma in history.
But Queensland’s Dr Matt Young, owner of the 2018 RACGP general practice of the year, ticks all three boxes.
His passion for foreign cultures has seen him travel to more than 100 countries around the world over the course of his 25-year career in medicine.
Now Dr Young is planning to combine both of his interests with like-minded GPs, donning his tour guide hat for a medical study tour from Alice Springs to Darwin.    
‘It’s a multi-faceted holiday,’ he told newsGP.
‘It’s a fantastic opportunity to have a little bit of adventure and to immerse yourself in 60,000 years’ worth of continuous Aboriginal culture, getting some inside knowledge.
‘I’m hoping that, as a travel guide with my archaeological and historical experience, I can really add those dimensions for other people and then deliver it with a little bit of passion and a bit of enthusiasm, and hopefully they get a bit more out of it than just a whole collection of photos.’
Supported by the RACGP, the tour is set to take place from 1–7 June 2021, and is an accredited continuing professional development (CPD) activity.
Commencing in Alice Springs, GPs will have the chance to learn about general practice in the Northern Territory. Dr Sam Heard, a GP and Medical Director of the Flinders NT Regional Training Hub, will give insight into healthcare delivery and training in remote areas.
Also on the agenda is Purple House, an Indigenous-owned and run health service that provides dialysis in the most remote parts of the country, helping to ensure patients receive care and spend as little time away from their families and cultural ties as possible.
People will hear about how the service turned around patient survival rates, from the worst to the best in Australia. 
Attendees will also get an inside scoop on the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS) Central Operations, and the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC), established after the 2002 Bali Bombings to provide emergency medical response in the region.

Attendees will visit the Royal Flying Doctors Service Central Operations.

But for Dr Young, it is the Australian outback, its natural beauty and the history and culture that accompany it, that make the tour a particularly unique experience.
Sites include the MacDonell Ranges, a cruise along Nitmiluk Gorge, Katherine, Litchfield National Park, and the Adelaide River.
The group will travel from Alice Springs to Darwin on a 24-hour train trip on the iconic Ghan.
‘They’re going to be seeing some phenomenal natural beauty and some great geology,’ Dr Young said.
‘Embracing the archaeology and the culture of people, embracing the history of events and peoples, really adds so many extra dimensions to a travelling experience.
‘Going through Katherine Gorge and saying, “That’s an interesting river and that’s an interesting rock”, well that’s great.
‘But if you can say, “This Aboriginal group lived here, this is what they learned about the land, this is how they lived off the land, this is their ideological beliefs, this is their cultural belief system and their art” – that adds so many extra dimensions to a holiday.
‘It brings that travel experience alive and is the difference between being a tourist and a traveller.’
Reflecting on the past 12 months, Dr Young says the tour is a timely opportunity to step away from the consulting room to see how people do things elsewhere, reconnect with nature, and come together with like-minded people.
‘This year has taken its toll in a lot of ways,’ he said.
‘We’re dealing with a population – particularly a doctoring population – that are really quite drained by the whole saga of COVID-19.
‘Talking to other doctors in an informal setting will create a great sense of camaraderie, and maybe allow people to have a little bit of catharsis about their trials and tribulations of 2020.
‘The reality is, we’re not going to be going overseas next year, I wouldn’t think. So why not avail ourselves of this phenomenal country that we live in?
‘You’re going to be under a couple of billion stars in the Milky Way without an electric light within cooee – that’s going to be something special.’
The Jon Baines Tours’ medical study tour From the Red Centre to the Top End is a CPD-accredited activity, with information about points to be confirmed. More information is available on the website.
Disclosure: The RACGP will receive a small commission for every member that signs up to the tour.
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