GP and Australian Doctors International Volunteer: Dr Ian Hunter

Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene alumnus (2004), Dr Ian Hunter is a semi-retired GP currently doing itinerant rural GP locum work and volunteering at Australian Doctors International (ADI). Ian told us about his experience of studying at the School, and why he chose to volunteer with Australian Doctors International.

“I had always wanted to study tropical medicine and possibly work in tropical countries. The opportunity to study at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine came when I was able to use study leave from my hospital job to attend the Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene course in 2004. It was quite a career change to switch from employment to being a full-time student. The support I received from staff and other students was what helped me make the transition from a night shift doctor to a full time student. This excellent support really made a difference for someone at my age and stage to take on these studies.

At the end of the course we all sat for the college exam and then myself and a few of my classmates went on a field trip to The Gambia for a couple of weeks. My wife joined me for this trip. It was a real highlight to see first hand what we had been studying.

 

Following physician training, I spent 15 years in suburban General Practice before another 15 years in Emergency Medicine at Calvary Hospital. When I retired from Calvary Hospital I considered going back into general practice with an interest in travel medicine or perhaps doing some volunteer work which lead me to ADI.

Studying at LSHTM helped tremendously with the Tropical Medicine side of my deployment with ADI in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Years of work as a GP and then covering the Emergency Department of Calvary Hospital for 15 years helped for medical experiences. Without doubt I couldn’t have volunteered with ADI in PNG without the benefit of my LSHTM training. My experience in Tasmania was so removed from what I encountered in PNG that tropical medicine training helped to bridge the gap I had.

ADI seemed to suit my needs better than other organizations as it had a specific goal of helping to improve Health Services in PNG alone. I was posted at Namatanai Hospital in New Ireland Province from August to December 2015 on a program sponsored by Newcrest Mining. The local staff I worked with amazed me with their ability to work so hard with so few resources, and yet at the same time, achieve so much. It was a humbling experience and made the job worthwhile.

In May 2018 I was able to travel back to Namatanai to participate in a charity bike ride organised by ADI. I was drawn to the ride as it was for a good cause and gave me the opportunity to meet up with some of the health workers I had the privilege of working with. I would encourage current students to look  into volunteering with an charity like Australian Doctors International as it could be your greatest life changing decision of your life.”

Images courtesy of Ian Hunter.

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