From reliever to rural reverence

Manu Nithiananantha

Dr Manu Nithianantha

North Blackwater General Practice / Manu Medical Group

Setting up a private practice can be one of the most rewarding accomplishments of a doctor’s career.

Setting up in a rural location – even more so. This charismatic rural GP has found that taking the leap provides opportunities beyond standard working environments and allows for entrepreneurial perspectives within our industry. Dr Manu Nithianantha describes why he moved his expertise to the Central Highlands of Queensland, and never looked back. “Starting out in a medical career is both exciting and challenging. You’ve done the hard yards and you’re driven to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.

My career took a mammoth leap from providing my professional services to publicly owned institutions, to the North Blackwater General Practice/Manu Medical Group practices I have built from Dec 2008, and what I genuinely feel is revered by the community I serve. “See a Need, Fill a Need.” Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows; I have been humbled by many experiences and have learned from mistakes along the way. Like many young doctors I worked in Emergency, Surgical training and then Physician training for years followed by rounds as a young rural reliever in ten to fifteen different towns (when I was soul searching after losing family in the war in Sri Lanka). I grew to love rural people, the lifestyle and the variety of work which was enhanced by my various experiences in training as well. Through this, I saw opportunity to grow the services in the Central Highlands, basically quoting my favourite cartoon “See a need, fill a need”. Growth and diversification happened only when I went out on my own. I focussed on community medicine and other industries like mining came to us as a result. The Private Practice Autumn 2019 25 You need resilience to start a private practice in a small town and then grow it.

A demonstrated commitment not only to the community, but to yourself is paramount. Be prepared to take care of your own mental health, as fatigue and over-commitment can be real possibilities. It was these opportunities to better myself, and the desire to make technologically advanced resources available to my communities however, that ultimately pushed me to where I am today. Be true to what you really love about your vocation. You will find things flow much more smoothly with the support that you crave, when investing in the whole community. I firmly believe, much like Sir Richard Branson advises; when you look after your staff, they will look after your customers, who will look after your business. This for me means supporting local programs, schools, town committees, town redevelopment programs and infrastructure, both financially and through your time and personal involvement. A message to all rural and new, young doctors: a community is as welcoming as you want it to be. The more you put into the community, the more welcoming it will be. This includes not doing things searching for gratitude but for the love of doing it. Gratitude will follow when your love and happiness in your practice is evident. “A demonstrated commitment not only to the community, but to yourself is paramount.”

When investing for the right reasons, you can end up being a very powerful voice for the communities that you service. With that comes a responsibility to your community, which you enjoy and learn to relish, rather than it being a burden. What facilitates that enjoyment is something most rural communities are very good at: “gratitude, support and affection.” experience subscribe here. The proprietor of multiple practices including services at the Capella Clinic, Gemfields Clinic in Sapphire and our North Blackwater General Practice, Dr Manu is also now undertaking self-funded research projects to better understand, prevent and treat mental health issues and the Black Lung. Dr Manu provides over 50% of the data collected across Australia for the Black Dog Institute’s current Stepcare program.

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