“The Lifestyle is Good” – Canadian Doctor-To-Be Sold on the Coastal Charms of East Gippsland

Medical Intern Christina Kim. Photo: Jake Lynch/BRHS


It’s the story underneath the story.

With all the disruptions that COVID-19 caused to our nation’s healthcare system last year, there was one particularly vital piece of work, happening every day, behind the scenes, that never halted.

“Life for the next generation of doctors and nurses in training has been anything but textbook.”

That was the constant pipeline of medical training and education that happens at hospitals everywhere, ensuring we have enough new doctors and nurses coming through every year to serve our growing population.

With physical distancing, the closure of services, PPE requirements and visitor restrictions, life as we know it for healthcare educators and the next generation of doctors and nurses in training has been anything but “textbook.”

But, crucially, the training pipeline continued to flow.

And this was particularly important for communities like East Gippsland, where shortages of quality doctors and nurses is always a concern.

So it was especially pleasing this month to welcome to BRHS a new crop of young medical interns, who after many years of study now get a chance to put that learning into action.

Meet Christina Kim

For Hyunjin (Christina) Kim, the long journey to becoming a doctor started in her home city of Toronto, Canada, a very different place from the small town charms of coastal East Gippsland.

“I love swimming, and my partner loves hiking. So this is perfect.”

And it’s a move that is suiting her very nicely.

“I love swimming – absolutely love being in the water – and my partner loves hiking,” Christina told us this week. “So this is perfect. Being Canadian, I’m really looking forward to the wintertime, too, when we can head up to the ski fields.”

While the selling points of East Gippsland are obvious to anyone that has been here, country areas and smaller regional hospitals like BRHS are not always a new doctor’s first choice.

But for Christina, it’s exactly where she wants to be at the stage in her career.

“I’m interested in working as a rural GP,” she said.

Why rural?

“It’s a nice life! It’s a lot more relaxed than in the city, and the lifestyle is good,” Christina said. “And I’m interested in family medicine. I like the idea of being able to treat all ages, and all kinds of presentations.”

“I’ve been super well-supported. Whenever I have a question, there’s always someone to ask.”

That breadth of experience is something we often hear from young doctors as to why they choose country over city.

Christina is a Victorian Rural Generalist Program intern, an initiative launched last year with the goal of making sure rural communities like ours have enough doctors.

What makes this program different from other medical internships is that it allows the doctor-in-training to stay in a rural area like East Gippsland for the whole internship, rather than having to return to the city for particular components.

A warm welcome

Christina said she had received a very warm and friendly welcome from her new BRHS family.

“Oh, the staff have been lovely – everyone has been so nice,” Christina said.

She smiles when she talks about the group house she shares with a few other interns, and the house’s resident pooches, Arlo and Charlie.

“To be honest, I was a bit worried before I came about whether there would be enough professional support for me here, or whether because it was a smaller hospital I’d just be on my own,” she said. “But I’ve been super well-supported. Whenever I have a question, there’s always someone to ask. The other doctors and the nurses always have the time to help, and I’ve learned a lot so far.”