John Flynn Placement – Monto, QLD

By Meghan Taylor

I did my first placement in Monto, Queensland in late 2019 through the John Flynn Placement Program (JFPP). Monto has a population of just over 1000, it has quite an ageing population with more that a third of the population over 60 years old. It is located two hours west of Bundaberg, 500km north of Brisbane.

There are three doctors. The doctors work across the GP clinic and the local hospital. I stayed in the local caravan park which was conveniently across the road from the hospital and clinic.

The following is a recount of my first day on placement in Monto…

My day started with warm country welcome after warm country welcome.

I was given a tour of the hospital. Monto Hospital is small! They call a four bed room a ward! But really sweet. They have an avenue of hanging plants at the entrance and a nice garden out the back. There’s maybe 20 beds total including two ED/resuscitation rooms, a really nice palliative care room/family area. A lot of the beds are taken up my longer-term residents awaiting placement – the longest resident has been there for 417 days!

Tom one of the rural generalists took me for coffee (my first coffee shout as a medical student!) and a quick town tour. He has just completed his fellowship training and seems to love the rural lifestyle. He said within days of being offered his job in Monto, word had got out and his wife who is a teacher was offered a job at the local school. Word gets around in small towns like Monto. And everyone knows everyone.

I sat in with my mentor Vish for the rest of the day at the GP practice which is on the same site as the hospital and covered by the same doctors. Despite it being 36 degrees, I spent the day shivering due to the highly effective air conditioner.

We spent most of the morning looking at people sun damaged skin, performing skin checks and frying off solar keratosis with liquid nitrogen.

I listened to a man who had a mechanical heart valve – it clicked like a clock!

The saddest thing was a 75-year-old lady that recently lost her husband – she feels he would still be alive if they operated on his heart when he first presented. He had gone through a growling four months of hospitalisation after hospitalisation which weakened him, before they finally agreed to operate which resulted in complications and he passed away. She expressed she has lost her faith in all doctors after this.

One of my observations has been how sick some people are that are presenting to this rural GP practice. We admitted two patients to hospital who presented to the GP – one who has a history of myelodysplasia on the background of multiple malignancies, she was found to be profoundly anaemic, just looking at her you can tell she was so unwell, with a pale, yellow appearance. The other was a middle-aged woman who had been vomiting and had diarrhoea for four days and was profoundly dehydrated.

By the end of the day I was exhausted and in need for some serious defrosting after being chilled to the bone!

If you would like to find out more about JFPP placements see their website

After applications being delayed, we now have application dates for 2020 scholarship! Applications will be open from Monday 13 July until Wednesday 22 July 2020.