In Part Four of his blog series, Alasdair Spinner visits Alice Springs in Australia's Northern Territory...
Australia is full of places that defy expectations. Alice Springs is one of those. My own expectations – as an Australian – of the town and region were well wide of the mark. As well as the region and what it can offer personally, the hospital and medical service all left a very positive impression on me.
Alice Springs is in the Northern Territory. It is 1500km from the nearest major city. The hospital serves a catchment area that has a population of approximately 45,000 people and which stretches over the South Australian, West Australian and New South Wales border – an area close to the size of France. Let that sink in.
The scenery there isn’t what I expected at all – it’s not flat nor is it an arid desert. Flying in, you see large hills, cliffs and gorges spread across the landscape. Hills loom over the town. The spectacular landscape in the region includes canyons, beautiful waterholes, and waterfalls to explore.
Junior and Senior Doctors who live there love outdoor pursuits such as mountain biking, road cycling, canyoning, climbing, and bush walking. Exploring the town, I also saw a sports centre, tennis courts, swimming pool, a flood-lit oval and football pitches. A few Americans have created a baseball league. There were restaurants and cafes of all genres.
The town is extremely welcoming. All the people I met were very friendly and the hospital itself had a great vibe. Staff seemed very happy – morale is clearly high and they are enjoying their new facilities.
Alice Springs has a large tourist industry so many of the hotels have excellent restaurants and amenities. It also means that the airport has regular direct flights to every major city.
The hospital has brand new EM department, MRI, ICU, a new medical research library (with after-hours access) and a teaching auditorium currently being built. The nature of indigenous health means Alice Springs is one of the largest renal centres in Australia, and has internationally recognised Specialists working there. It also has a new Research and Medical Education Centre – which will be the home for Flinders University's Northern Territory Rural Clinical School and the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Central Australia.
I was also shown around the staff accommodation compound. I was particularly impressed by the swimming pool and BBQ areas, and the Boutros-Boutros Ghali Cocktail bar, named after the old United Nations Secretary-General to reflect the international make-up of the medical community.
If you are interested in working with genuinely unique medicine, with an extremely disadvantaged patient group, are interested in teaching and/or research in an exceptional community then perhaps Alice Springs can provide you with the ideal opportunity to do this.
For more information about Alice Springs please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Read Part One – Working in Australia
Read Part Two – The Important Stuff
Read Part Three – A Question of Perspective
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