An accolade from his peers has recently come the way of a dedicated and skilled Mount Gambier and Millicent GP.
Dr James Bushell has received a long service medal from the Rural Doctors Workforce Agency of South Australia at a gala dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
The medal was presented by State Health Minister Chris Picton and recognises Dr Bushell’s committed service to his patients in the South East for over 25 years.
Dr Bushell completed the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Adelaide and came to Millicent in 1997.
His move to Millicent was assisted by a special government grant which brought skilled GPs to rural locations.
He is a partner in Geltwood Limited which operates the Medical Clinic Millicent and is also well-known in the Blue Lake city as a long-term member of the obstetricians’ roster at Mount Gambier Hospital.
Dr Bushell performs minor surgery at Millicent Hospital and mentors medical students and trainee doctors.
He told The SE Voice he was attracted by the coastal areas of the South East, especially Beachport and Robe for windsurfing.
“I used to holiday with friends in Robe and I stayed at Dr Claire Thompson’s parents’ house here in Millicent for two weeks,” Dr Bushell said.
“Claire was in my year in med school and is a good friend.
“Millicent was not on the list for GP trainees so I rang up the clinic, spoke to Dr Adrian Griscti and asked if I could come down, he said yes and the rest is history.
“I love the place, my home is here and there is no reason to move, apart from the fact I cannot leave because we are so short on doctors!”
Dr Bushell explained the satisfaction he derived from various aspects of medicine.
“It’s very rewarding being able to help people in many ways and this can happen over a long period of time so it’s great to stay in one community,” he said.
“It’s rewarding being able to use the skills that I have trained in and love to do.
“The teaching of medical students and junior doctors is a great reward.
“The challenge is getting rural GPs into country SA.
“There are not enough incentives to work far away from capital cities.
“The new Federal Government initiative of reducing your HECS debt means you can still work a half-hour drive from the city and still have no HECS debt.”
Although his 25 years as a rural GP in the one location is notable, Dr Bushell has a long way to go to claim the record of Millicent’s longest-serving medico.
This honour is currently held by the late Dr David Harris OAM.
Dr Harris arrived in Millicent in 1952 and was still practising medicine until shortly before his death around 45 years later.
A RDWA spokesman said 18 rural GPs were presented with long service medals.
“The night was full of fun, celebration and recognition of the contributions made to the profession and to rural communities,” the spokesman said.
“GPs were joined by family and colleagues and the stories they shared with 170 dinner guests were heartfelt and inspirational.”