Den­tist on the move

She sees the Out­back and treats coun­try folk

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­

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.

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