Life-changing experience fuels obstetrics passion

Dr Janelle de Graaf combined her two interests for the perfect medical career.

Raising a baby girl and working as a GP registrar, you could say Dr Janelle de Graaf already has her hands full.

Earlier this year, Janelle's devotion to rural medicine and rural communities saw her commence her ACRRM fellowship and Basic Diploma of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (DRANZCOG).

Janelle experienced a country upbringing in Mount Barker, Bridgetown and Karratha before settling in Bunbury when she was seven. It was the sense of community and belonging she experienced that influenced her decision to become a rural GP.

“Growing up in regional Western Australia definitely influenced my decision of wanting to work in rural medicine. I love the sense of community in smaller towns – people know you and they look after you.”

During her studies, Janelle jumped at the opportunity to complete a year with The Rural Clinical School in Busselton.

“I chose Busselton because it was close to my family and I love the lifestyle of the South West. There were six of us that worked and lived in close proximity to each other and it was such an enjoyable experience,”Janelle said.

Janelle had an inkling during her medical degree that she was destined to pursue obstetrics and gynaecology and her year in Busselton certainly confirmed this; however, it was the life-changing experience of giving birth to her daughter that really fuelled her passion.

“The first thing that comes to mind when I think about my year in Busselton was that I was able to provide continuity of care and follow patients through their whole experience. Performing obstetrics in the country, you can care for a patient through pregnancy, childbirth and the post-partum period.”

In 2018, Janelle completed six months of obstetrics and gynaecology at Joondalup Health Campus before relocating to Albany in January 2019, where she has been pursuing her GP training and participating in the GP Obstetrics Mentoring Program.

The GP Obstetrics Mentoring Program - funded by WA Country Health Service and delivered by Rural Health West - supports GPs to gain confidence in their skills as they start working as an independent proceduralist by linking them with an experienced practitioner. Mentoring can take the form of shadowing, discussion complex patients or debriefing after delivering medical procedures.

“My mentor is Dr Carly Roxburgh, who also works at Pioneer Health. It is extremely valuable having someone close-at-hand to discuss cases and presentations, or ask her if I am uncertain about how best to manage a patient.

“Having a mentor is helping me to become a proficient and competent practitioner as I know there is extra support available.”

Source: Rural Health West