Doctor’s new prescription

A TRARALGON paediatrician hopes to bring more medical practitioners to the region during his tenure as the head of Monash University School of Rural Health in the Latrobe Valley and West Gippsland.

Dr Joseph Tam has been appointed as Associate Professor of Rural Medicine and director of the health education institution at Latrobe Regional Hospital in Traralgon and Warragul at West Gippsland Healthcare Group.

The Hong Kong-born doctor said he was honoured and privileged to be appointed to lead Australia’s first school of rural health, with significant medical history and a strong Gippsland connection.

“It started off at the old Moe hospital and has blossomed into a world class rural medical education institution. I’m humbled to be offered the position,” Dr Tam said.

Dr Tam said he had two broad objectives – to work with all stakeholders to fine tune and consolidate the medical program and develop a model of education in partnership with regional hospitals and health services to ensure a sustainable rural health service.

He said the Monash School of Rural Health had been successful establishing training for young doctors in rural health.

“I’ve seen the fruit of hard work of everyone involved, there are seven residents at LRH born and bred in Gippsland, who all did their medical training at Churchill,” Dr Tam said.

The well-travelled doctor came to the Latrobe Valley in 1998 from the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney with a belief that “one of the best ways to educate ourselves is to experience what other people do and how they live”.

He became the only visiting consultant paediatrician at LRH and spearheaded the development of the small paediatric service into a department of five paediatricians and six paediatric hospital medical officers, who provide 24-hour, seven-day on-site services at the hospital.

Head of School Professor Judi Walker said Dr Tam came to the position with “outstanding credentials”, including extensive experience in the development and delivery of regional medical education.

“He has substantial clinical and administrative leadership experience and has established strong working relationships with his patients and their families, allied health professionals, colleagues, students and health service executives,” Professor Walker said.

Dr Tam will continue his private consulting practice at LRH.