Dentist on the move
She sees the Outback and treats country folk
THE life of a travelling rural dentist is ideal for Alex Stipis.
The young woman signed on with the Royal Flying Doctor Service for the experience and to see more of Queensland.
Now, instead of being stationary as she would in a private practice in a city or town, her 18-wheel semi-trailer office moves around to remote and rural communities across the state.
From Winton to Djarra she has treated hundreds of patients, who she knows wouldn’t have access to healthcare unless the RFDS van rolled into town.
“We see a lot of complex cases,” she said.
“We have seen people who haven’t really seen a dentist for, in some cases, decades,” she said.
“When you are on the coast you don’t tend to see people who have toothaches for over a year, where a lot of the times when I am asking people how long they have been in pain for it can be that long.”
Alex grew up in Far North Queensland, in her younger years on a cane farm near Tully.
She was attracted to the healthcare sector early on and felt becoming a dentist would suit her lifestyle better in the long run.
“You still get to interact with patients and feel like you are helping people, but it’s usually 9–5 and there are not a lot of emergency callouts,” she said.
Alex now works on a roster – two weeks on and one week off, and loves it.
“I get to see a lot more of Queensland,” she said.
“And the patients are really thankful for us being there.
“They are really lovely people. It’s really cute – sometimes they will make us morning tea or show us around the local attractions.”
Winton has become a much-loved spot for her.
“When we were there last time the Outback Film Festival was on, it was action-packed,” she said.
Alex quickly adjusted to life on the road, and doesn’t mind the flights and long drives to remote towns.
The hardest part for her, which she joked was lame to say, was having to leave her dachshund, Shrinky, behind.
“Although it’s exciting to go to different places and be away from home... it’s definitely fun and an adventure, but leaving your friends, family and my puppy gets hard.
“Two weeks is short, but two weeks consistently over the year means you are away quite a lot.”
Keep an eye out for the c Rural Weekly’s coverage as we help commemorate the RFDS 90 years of service.
Sometimes they will make us morning tea or show us around the local attractions. — Alex Stipis
GREAT JOB: Royal Flying Doctor Service dentist Alex Stipis.