Caring for the community in Albany, WA

Growing up in a rural area, Dr Phoebe Thornton intends to practice as a rural psychiatrist on completion of her training. ‘I have a strong sense of wanting to serve my community and I thought the best way to do that was by becoming a rural psychiatrist.

'Working in a rural setting, you have a strong sense of community and sense of commitment to that community. And it's a privilege to care for the people in that community,' she says.

Phoebe is determined to be part of a sustainable and accessible rural psychiatry workforce that can provide services comparable to those provided in the metropolitan areas. ‘I think face-to-face consultations are really important and the video-conferencing appointments just don't quite cut it. I've been really inspired by all the rural colleagues – there's a really strong supportive culture often because the hospitals are small, so you know everyone. So, it's a really positive workplace to work in.’

Taking a training post at Albany in Western Australia, Phoebe works closely with Indigenous patients, Aboriginal liaison officers and Indigenous mental health workers, to provide culturally competent and sensitive care to the smaller surrounding towns with large Indigenous populations. ‘I think in psychiatry, compared to other fields, it's really important to be culturally sensitive and have strong support from Indigenous workers that are locals in the area.’

As part of the Australian Government’s Specialist Training Program, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists supports a variety of exciting training opportunities in rural Australia for psychiatry registrars.

Unique training posts are available in rural settings, including:

  • public and private health facilities
  • aged care
  • community health
  • Aboriginal health services.

The Specialist Training Program (STP) offers six-month training rotations at various stages of the RANZCP Fellowship Program. 

The Integrated Rural Training Pipeline (IRTP) supports the completion of at least two thirds of RANZCP Fellowship in a rural environment.

More about the STP

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Disclaimer: Any patients mentioned in this article have been deidentified and created for the purposes of this article. This article may represent the views of the author and not necessarily the views of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists ('RANZCP'). By accessing the article you also agree to the RANZCP Website Terms of Use Agreement.


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