Dr Bec Loveridge is a first year registrar training towards her RACGP Fellowship, and moved to Portland, Victoria, in 2022 to undertake her GP training via RVTS’s Targeted Recruitment program.

Bec was appointed as one of our Registrar Liaison Officers (RLOs) in September, and brings considerable experience in representing student and junior doctor groups. She also has considerable experience organising repeated attempts at weddings!

Did you have a rural upbringing?

Nope! I was born and raised in Melbourne, and had always lived within 20 minutes of my family home. I found out about RVTS through a Facebook post regarding one of the Targeted Recruitment locations that was on offer – Portland in Victoria. I’m a huge advocate for healthcare equality so have always wanted to provide care in communities of need. The Targeted Recruitment program helped address some of the barriers to moving my family to a rural area – we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to come.

Were you always going to be a doctor…what other career path might you have taken?

Before medicine, I was (very briefly) an accountant.

What got you interested in medicine as a career?

I have had the same amazing GP my whole life – she was my inspiration to become a GP.

What type of practice work are you doing in Portland?

I work at Dhauwurd-Wurrung Elderly & Community Health Service (DWECH), the Aboriginal Medical Service in Portland. We look after the local Gunditjmara community, as well as non-Indigenous patients.

What have been the challenges you’ve faced in rural medicine, and in your own GP training journey?

It was a big move from metro to rural, hospital to GP, and also non-Indigenous to Indigenous healthcare. Throw a successful third and final wedding attempt earlier in the year into the mix, and it’s been a busy time!

Three attempts at a wedding? You’d better clarify that!

We got 48 hours from our first wedding date before a lockdown was announced. Then on our second attempt, we were on our ‘honeymoon’ in regional Victoria with a plan to get married on the last day, and 24 hours into our honeymoon a statewide lockdown was announced so we had to drive home and cancel the second wedding. The third time went off without issue, including no guests testing positive to COVID!

What have been the highlights of your practice work so far?

I’m very happy to be working in primary care in an area of need, and my patients really appreciate my time.

Any amusing experiences you’ve had so far as a doctor?

I was recently demonstrating some hamstring stretches to a patient to improve their mobility, and got a bad cramp in the process – they had to help me up off the floor. I clearly need to practise what I preach!

What got you interested in becoming an RLO?

I’ve been involved in advocacy roles since my undergraduate Commerce studies. I think it’s important that registrars have a voice to shape their training and conditions. I’m not afraid to speak up, and I enjoy being involved in problem-solving issues.

What are some of the key issues raised with you in your role as an RLO?

I haven’t been an RLO for long, but the main general issues raised so far are pay and working conditions. In terms of specific RVTS or training issues, the main ones are that we don’t get to see or interact with each other as much because we’re all so spread out, and that those who don’t have senior GPs or supervisors on-site can find it difficult at times. My fellow registrars in Aboriginal Medical Service clinics have also raised issues that more specifically relate to some of these clinics.

Dr Bec Loveridge with her husband Nick...and Frank the dog.
Dr Bec Loveridge with her husband Nick...and Frank the dog.

What have you found is the most successful way to engage with our registrars in order to hear their stories, their challenges, and any concerns for them in their RVTS journey?

Nothing beats face-to-face – it’s a lot easier to raise an issue verbally than writing it down.

What changes or improvements have you been able to effect at RVTS through your RLO role?

I hope I’m improving the two-way flow of information between registrars and RVTS, and that some of the workshop feedback we provided on behalf of registrars will be seen next year. And we got the registrar WhatsApp group back up and running!

What have you taken away personally as an RLO – how has undertaking the role been of benefit to your own registrar journey?

I’ve been speaking with more registrars and RVTS staff than I perhaps otherwise would have. In a way, it’s also nice to know I’m not alone in some of the challenges I’m facing as a registrar.

Future plans for your medical career?

Too many things! My special interests are Type 1 diabetes (I was diagnosed at 15 years old), adolescent health, mental health, and trans and gender diverse healthcare. If I have the energy after RACGP Fellowship, I hope to complete RACMA training too.

Given you came from the city, how have you found rural practice and do you think you would ever return to the city to work?

I love providing healthcare in a community that really values my time. The main reason we would return to the city is for family reasons, especially if we have children in the future. If that happens I’d hope to split my time, though, as I think it’s important to work in areas of need.

What would you say to someone who is considering RVTS for their training journey?

RVTS provides excellent training for rural doctors, and really suits those who want to stay in the same clinic or community for all of their training time.

Interests outside medicine?

Food, wine and dogs. My dog’s name is Frank; he’s a Great Dane X who is approximately ten years old (we’ve had him for just over three years) – he’s a rescue dog from Orange in NSW. My husband Nick tied the ring box onto Frank’s collar when he proposed to me…that was a nice touch!