Consultant physician builds a life in the Goldfields


Dr Sean George is a Consultant Physician in General Medicine and the Director of Medicine at the WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Goldfields.

He moved to Kalgoorlie from Malaysia in 2006 and has been helping to build the general medicine capability of Kalgoorlie Health Campus for the past 15 years.

“I was 37 and had never been to Australia when I was offered a consultant physician position in Kalgoorlie.

“Up until then I had only worked in large scale hospitals and so when I was presented with the prospect of going to such a remote outback community I thought, why not?

“I was at a stage in my life where I wanted to build something for myself and be challenged.”

Making the move to the country

He initially moved to Kalgoorlie on his own and was later followed by his wife and son.

“There was a 73-year-old physician working here at the time and he enticed me into coming by discussing all the great things we could do together and then when I arrived he said, “I’m retiring.”

“All of a sudden, I was in in this medical unit in a foreign country and it was just myself and a medical registrar.

“In those early days there were many times I thought “what have I gotten myself into?”

Those thoughts soon eased and within a short time Sean was recruited to the Head of Department position and started to build the foundations of the team that stands today.

“My first priority in this new role was to have internships reaccredited and start to build the department one step at a time.”

“A very experienced overseas consultant physician applied and was successful to my department and together we worked to increase the capacity of admissions and started to manage the high dependency unit.”

Fast forward to today and the Goldfields is one of the regions within WACHS to have three consultant physicians, fellows of the college of physicians who provide training in basic and advanced physician training in both general and acute medicine. It also fosters four registrars, two resident medical officers and two intern positions with the capability for more.

“This is something that I am really proud of, I'm glad that I was able to persevere.

“We now have a full-fledged internal medical department and it’s amazing to look back and think about how far we have come since those early days.”

Caring for Aboriginal communities

A key focus for Sean since moving to Australia has been providing support to Aboriginal communities but on their terms and in a way that respects their values and culture.

“I didn’t know much about the history of Australia’s First Nations people until I got here.

“I was privileged to meet Dr Christine Jeffries-Stokes, a paediatrician in the Goldfields whose husband is an Aboriginal Elder, they invited me to their home and shared stories.”

Being given first-hand perspective of what had happened, and the challenges faced by Aboriginal people helped Sean understand the community and ignited his passion to focus on Aboriginal health.

“I started to say, “hey what can I do to help”, “what can I do to make things better?”

“I noticed Aboriginal patients that had been booked into the clinic weren’t showing up and I started to question why.

“Through talking to the community and cultural learning, I soon realised that they didn’t feel comfortable within the space, so I started attending the Aboriginal Medical Service and treating them there.”

Sean has now built a very solid relationship with these communities and treats around 15 – 25 patients a month at the Aboriginal Medical Service.

“This is one the biggest highlights of my work here, to have the relationships with these people blossom and to have them trust me with their health has made me feel like I am making a difference.”

Improvements to services

Another highlight for Sean has been the work his department has done with diabetes.

“We’ve started doing insulin pump therapy in Kalgoorlie. Type 1 adult patients previously had to fly to Perth for this treatment but now we have the capability to do it here.

“It has been fantastic! Our patients’ lives have improved drastically because they have a lot more freedom knowing there is assistance if they require it locally.”

As far as the team goes in Kalgoorlie, Sean says it has formed into a very inclusive and multicultural environment.

“Our unit is very multicultural, probably one of the most in WACHS. We have Aussies, Malaysians, Filipinos, Indians, the list goes on.”

“Some of our doctors have never worked in a rural environment before and don’t know what to expect so we really like to take them under our wing and welcome them - it feels like a big happy family.”

“We all do lots of cooking and we have dinners in the staff dining room which really seems to lift the team morale.”

Life in the Goldfields

Since moving to the Goldfields, Sean has also spent a lot of time taking part in activities outside of medicine and loves it.

“I am a musician and artist and since moving to Kalgoorlie I have published a couple of albums. I’ve also started doing a lot of woodwork, as there are some amazing timbers you can work with out here.

“There are great community groups you can join and everyone is very welcoming.”

Sean has no plans on leaving the country and is a big advocate for other doctors to relocate and give it a try, especially if they have a desire to expand their skill set.

“There's no better place to work than in a country hospital because you get do everything – cardiology, nephrology, neurology, rheumatology - you name it, you will try it. Your knowledge base expands at a very rapid rate.

“I spent years working in big hospitals and thought I had done everything, but I have learnt so much since relocating to Kalgoorlie and I feel incredibly lucky to have had the experience.”

To find out more about working with WACHS contact our Medical Recruitment Team or visit our living and working in country WA page. For current opportunities visit our medical vacancies page.

Alternatively join the WACHS LiveHire Medical Talent Community to be the first to hear about upcoming locum and longer term opportunities.

Last Updated: 04/03/2022