New doctors in Shepparton

By Spencer Fowler Steen

WHEN you have spent five years dealing with diseases you would only find in obscure textbooks, making the shift to Shepparton must seem like a walk in the park.

Except — in the medical world — it isn’t.

Nor is travelling from one corner of the country to the other — unless you really want to do it.

Which makes the arrival of husband and wife doctors Bronwyn Burt and Hubert van Doorn in downtown Shepparton a bonanza — not just for the people who live here but also for the next generation of doctors they will help train.

The couple are not long back from five years in the Northern Territory, where Bronwyn focused on work in Indigenous communities and for more than three years her husband worked as a medical educator, providing support and training for medical supervisors who trained the registrars at Darwin’s hospital.

With the doctors drawn back to Victoria after years away from family, our region won the lottery to get them to the University of Melbourne’s Shepparton Medical Centre.

And Hubert said his ambition — apart from training student doctors — was to get more of them to come to town.

Teaching future generations of doctors: Dr Hubert van Doorn.

“We want to attract more young doctors. This clinic is probably the only purpose-built clinic in Australia specifically set up as a teaching hub for medical students and GP registrars,” Hubert said.

“It provides me an opportunity to work as a GP and provide on-site, hands-on support to the students and the registrars.”

For Hubert, who spent 26 years in Melbourne working as a GP at East Brunswick Medical Clinic, patients’ willingness to see student doctors here has struck a chord.

“It’s not an afterthought: ‘Oh dear, I’ll have to see the student.’ It’s: ‘Oh yes, of course I’ll see the student doctor.’”

Bronwyn’s special interests include community education, nutrition, preventative medicine and cardiovascular disease.

And her main message was simple.

“Stay active for as long as you can — you’re never too old to start activity,” she said.

“It’s proven that 90-year-olds who do resistance and strength exercise have improved outcomes, decreasing their risk of falls.

“In terms of food, I don't want to lecture anyone, just be aware of what’s in it and the healthy amounts of salt, sugar and fat.”

In their spare time, the couple love cross country skiing — another big reason they have moved to Shepparton.