“He was really enthusiastic on the phone and said, ‘you should come and visit and check it out’, which I did and that was February of 2016. And then in November, I got on a plane and moved to Australia. And that was meant to be two years and that's about five and a half years ago now,” Dr Budd said.
He said he was almost knocked for six when he left his snow covered home in Scotland and set foot in Katherine, right in the middle of a steamy Build-Up.
While he’s stayed for a lot longer than he originally intended he said the pattern of staying in the NT for longer than planned was not uncommon for health professionals.
As the Katherine Hospital Clinical Lead for Medicine, and a specialist physician in Respiratory and General Medicine, he works closely with students from Flinders University’s Northern Territory Medical Program to ensure they receive a diverse and satisfying placement.
"As Katherine Hospital has grown, my colleagues, both rural generalists and specialists, within the hospital; we've kind of made sure that education is a focus," he said.
"We do this by making sure that the medical students come to us and have a really great experience. We want to ensure that they feel they have easy access to senior doctors to ask them questions and have an open dialogue.
We have certain goals for them during their time in Katherine and, we want to make sure that by the end of it, they have developed their clinic skills especially their clinical presentation skills,” he said.
He said they were also interested in educating students about the barriers that people faced both within the health care system but also socio-economic disadvantages.
"Why do some individuals not feel safe in hospitals? What's the history behind that? How is the system innately racist.
"The systems are not designed to navigate easily if you come from a different culture and background that does not speak English as a first language.
"What can you do as a clinician going forward to try to improve that service and advocate for people?
"I try to have open discussions about that too in hospital settings. I think we're trying to train a good doctor clinically but equally, create a doctor who's well rounded and thinking about the wider issues that their patient’s face.
Advocacy is so important and we as clinicians can be quite powerful if we speak up about these issues.”
Dr Budd’s work is varied with a job that allows him to travel across the region from Borroloola to Lajamanu – a region bigger than the area of the UK and Ireland combined.
“I spend probably about 60 per cent of my time in hospital and 40 per cent of my time in remote communities doing outreach work,” he said.
“Once you start investing that time in those remote communities, trust and engagement with individuals dramatically improves. And so, you find each year that you go, the more people get to know you, that trust is built up, that kind of connection, that ability to make some change as well gets stronger.”
Dr Budd alongside the rest of the Katherine Hospital team is working hard to expand the scope of work able to be completed in the region, he’s now one of three physicians working in Katherine providing specialist care. He also conducts lectures for NTMP students to help further educate the next generation of doctors.
Dr Budd reckons he still has a few more years in him before he moves on from Katherine but in the meantime, he’s looking forward to a trip back to the UK in August to see his family.
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