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“Bula!” in Boggabri – a Fijian doctor’s Targeted Recruitment experience

Originally from Fiji, Dr Salma Hanif moved from Tasmania to the small town of Boggabri in north-western NSW in 2020 to undertake her advanced GP training as part of RVTS’s Targeted Recruitment pathway. She told Patrick Daley she has been really pleased with the support and training provided by RVTS, as well as the welcoming nature of the local community.

Dr Salma Hanif (courtesy Ochre Health).

Describe your upbringing in Fiji…

I was born and bred rurally in the salad bowl of Fiji, called Sigatoka, and raised along a coastal area which is now home to the famous Intercontinental Resort Fiji. I grew up in a communal, village-type setting, which meant I always had loads of friends to play with and share my happy moments.

What got you interested in Medicine as a career?

The need for doctors in Fiji and an ability to help people in times of need.

Describe the first part of your medical career, when you were working in Fiji…

I worked at health centres on mainland Viti Levu, mainly doing rural and remote preventative healthcare, disaster management in communities and acute care. It was a steep learning curve – I got thrown in the deep end from day one – and it really helped shape my career.

What got you interested in General Practice?

It allows you to see a blend of clinical scenarios – I think this makes GP Land exciting!

What brought you to Australia?

I came here to complete my Fellowship in General Practice.

Why was our Targeted Recruitment pathway a good option for you?

Being on the Targeted Recruitment pathway allowed a smoother entry into GP training for me. It enabled me to step into GP training when other options could not.

What have been the highlights of your time at Boggabri?

Taking part in emergency on-calls, mobile respiratory clinics and pandemic management at a small community level.

Salma enjoying the sunshine on South Sea Island, Fiji.

Are there any amusing or heart-warming moments you’ve had while there?

There are many! Boggabri is a really friendly town with warm people. There is a lovely old lady who always greets me in the Fijian language with “bula” (hello) and says “vinaka” (thank you) before leaving – I think this is the warmest way to show respect and be inclusive.

What have been the highlights of your GP training with RVTS?

The support that RVTS has provided during my GP training is immense – I can’t thank them enough for this – and for the amazing workshops of course!

What are your plans for the future?

I’m planning to do advanced skills training in Palliative Care while continuing to practise in NSW.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about applying for a Targeted Recruitment place?

Take the leap – it is well supported and a very rewarding pathway!