As a new Registrar Liaison Officer (RLO) at Northern Territory General Practice Education (NTGPE), Dr Keturah Skov’s heart has always been in the NT.
NT local Keturah returned to the Territory in 2020 after a decade living in Melbourne for university and work, where she had a range of jobs including as a medical registrar and emergency registrar.
She is currently an ACRRM trainee in Alice Springs, where she was born before spending her childhood growing up in Darwin.
“I love living and working in central Australia – it’s a beautiful and diverse community,” said Keturah.
“I spent 10 years away in Melbourne and overseas, but always felt myself drawn back to central Australia.
“I love being able to give back to the community I grew up in, and it’s a privilege to be able to live and work in a multicultural community.”
Keturah speaks enthusiastically about her two years spent training at Alice Springs Hospital and her six months at Central Australian Aboriginal Congress.
“I particularly cherished my time as a medical registrar at Alice Springs Hospital,” she said.
“I felt privileged to be afforded that opportunity as an ACRRM trainee, and I don’t think it would have been possible if I wasn’t in a rural location.
“It was an excellent learning experience. The opportunity to learn from consultants and other registrars and to take on a higher level of responsibility significantly developed my knowledge and clinical skills.
“I feel I have a better understanding of different medical conditions, and feel confident discussing cases with specialists as a result.”
The RLO role at NTGPE provides a very important connection between those in the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program and those running the program.
It is an ideal role for Keturah, who has had first-hand experience of the support NTGPE provides its registrars.
“NTGPE has always been extremely supportive throughout my training journey,” she said.
“I’ve been matched with a suitable training advisor who is easily contactable and has stayed with me throughout my training.
“The administrative staff are lovely, super organised, and reply quickly to any queries I might have.
“And the medical educators are diverse and very experienced – it’s a pleasure and an inspiration to learn from them.
“I’m excited to work with NTGPE to deliver their education program, and be an advocate for registrars across the Territory.”
Keturah has faced many challenges on her journey so far, but believes it is those experiences which have steered her towards a career in general practice.
“The most challenging part for me so far was the unsociable hours that I was required to work while in hospital,” she said.
“I love my job, but also love my social and personal life! The work-life balance available in general practice was a big draw card and I feel much better for it.
“In general practice, I think the biggest challenge is the burden of responsibility.
“In a hospital there are so many safety nets – nursing staff, allied health, residents, your consultant, and of course the GP!
“Once you’re the GP, you are the safety net.”
Keturah believes that working in critical care and seeing the same patients present repeatedly made her realise how reactionary tertiary care can be.
“If we want to make a difference, we need to focus on preventative health strategies implemented through primary health care, as well public health policies to address the underlying socioeconomic determinants of health,” she said.
For Keturah, the key to being an excellent GP is the ability to be flexible.
“We’re often working in resource poor settings with different people, and being flexible is the difference between bending in the face of obstacles and snapping,” she said.
“Recognising that everyone has a unique skill to bring to the table and being able to laugh at the absurdity of certain situations makes a big difference!”
And what does she think her work life will look like in five years’ time?
“I see myself doing a combination of procedural and clinical work, with hopefully some medical education thrown in there too,” she said.
“I’m passionate about general practice and being a GP.
“The reward of being able to support someone to better health, building a relationship, and hearing how grateful they are … it definitely makes it all worth it.”