Recruiting staff has always been a challenge for Mildura Base Public Hospital (MBPH), but since its transition to public management it has been able to attract new talent, including new director of obstetrics and gynaecology Dr Brian McCully.
Dr McCully has joined MBPH from northern Queensland, where he was a staff specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at Rockhampton Base Hospital.
A passionate advocate for rural medicine, Dr McCully is looking forward to his new role and immersing himself in the Sunraysia lifestyle.
“If you have the opportunity to come into a small team, it allows you to be very grounded and gives you the opportunity to have a really hands-on, down-to-earth experience with a team that can then grow together,” Dr McCully said.
“In bigger hospitals you tend to get too distant from where people live and work.
“I always look forward to being part of community environment, of feeling comfortable in a space where everyone knows each other, where we work together and where the things we do matter.
“They make a difference to people’s lives, to the people we work with, midwives, doctors, students and, most importantly, the person you’re looking after is someone you are going to walk by on the street.
“There are a lot of people who talk the talk these days, but when I spoke to Professor Pettigrew and Louise (chief medical officer Louise Litten) and Terry (chief executive Terry Welch) I really did sense that what they were saying was real.”
MBPH’s ability to attract highly qualified candidates in recent months is part of a long-term strategy under the guidance of Mr Welch.
Dr McCully said since joining the team at MBPH this month he knew his move was the right decision.
He said the people, the staff, everything about the hospital showed a genuine commitment to patient care.
“When you get a bit older, you sometimes think you’ve learnt all there is to know and you start to think your ways are the best ways,” Dr McCully said.
“You’ve spent a whole lot of time trying to be the best you can be and sometimes you can end up thinking that what you do is the only way of doing things.
“One of the great things about coming back to the hospital system is that you can share with other people.
“You can teach, you can mentor, you can supervise but more importantly, you can watch what others do, and you start to learn again and grow in ways that you hadn’t thought about before.”
After graduating from the University of Queensland, Dr McCully worked mainly in Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait in various rural practices before stints in South Africa and London.
He returned to Australia in 1994 and started his specialist training, winning a string of awards for academic excellence in obstetrics, including the F.J. Brown Medal in 1996 and Crown Street Medal in 1997.
Once he had completed his specialist training, Dr McCully worked as an independent private practitioner in Geelong for 15 years, delivering up to 400 babies a year.
But the opportunity to return to Queensland arose with a position at Ipswich Hospital as director of obstetrics and gynaecology, a position he held for three years before working as a staff specialist at Alice Springs Hospital, his role primarily to support antenatal and gynaecology outreach services to outlying indigenous communities in remote central and northern Australia.
In 2015, he worked in some of Australia’s most remote communities and while his primary purpose was to support the people of these isolated areas, it also gave him an opportunity to observe and learn the art and practice of traditional Aboriginal birthing and healing, an experience he will be forever grateful for.
“When I went into those communities I didn’t go in imagining there was a need to fix things or a need to change things,”
Dr McCully said. “I was happy to be able to be a part of a service which was being provided, but more importantly, it let me slow down and to walk in another life and just be what people needed me to be.”
A published author, Dr McCully said meditative and holistic birthing practices and transpersonal experiences, associated with child birth fascinated him.
He hopes the skills he has learnt over many years of practice will help improve the birthing experiences for women in this region.
“I don’t think there is a shoe that fits everyone and I think the art of obstetrics, and in fact in everything we do, whether it’s talking to the people at the shopping centre or being here as a specialist on the ward, it’s just simply to try and sit down and get to know where someone is coming from,” Dr McCully said.
“Often that’s pretty easy in obstetrics, but sometimes we have to really try hard, particularly when things aren’t going well.
“But we do try and I feel very strongly that I’ve come to a place where everybody feels the same.
“For me it is about reminding myself to listen, to give people space to share perspective, their hopes, their worries, the things that are important to them whether it’s a co-worker, a student, the mum or the dad, because at the end of the day everyone matters.”