HONOURED: Dr Carmel Walker receiving the RDAQ Meterious Service Award from President, Dr Konrad Kangru.
HONOURED: Dr Carmel Walker receiving the RDAQ Meterious Service Award from President, Dr Konrad Kangru. Contributed

GP recognised awarded for 40 plus years as a rural doctor

DESCRIBED as a true rural doctor, a Longreach region woman has been recognised for her 41 years of service to rural communities in Queensland.

Doctor Carmel Walker has worked from Cooroy in Noosa to the Aboriginal community of Bamaga, near Cape York.

Her most recent postings were in Longreach and then Director of Medical Services at Barcaldine.

Last week, Dr Walker was awarded the Meterious Service Award at the 2018 Rural Doctors Association of Queensland Conference in Brisbane at the David Horn Memorial Gala Dinner and Awards Night.

"I was very honoured because I am not sure I have done anything more than anyone else has," she said.

Growing up in Ipswich, Dr Walker began her career as a nurse.

She was in nursing in the area throughout the 60's and 70's before moving on to become a doctor.

In 1976, Dr Walker graduated from the University of Queensland, the only university in Queensland that offered medical education in those days.

Throughout her study, Dr Walker was kept busy through working part-time and giving birth to a child in her third year and again six weeks before she graduated.

Together, Dr Walker and her husband Vince, who sadly passed away in 2009, had five children.

The husband and wife team were quite the dynamic duo across rural Queensland as Mr Walker was a country police officer.

Dr Walker followed him around the country and after a while he followed her.

Dr Walker, who has never worked in a metro area, said she prefers the slower paced rural life.

"I think you know your patients better," she said.

"There is more continuity with the same patients and you see them again.

"I got to like it.

"You do tend to be more community minded when you are in the small areas."

Dr Walker recalled a time when she was working in Bamaga and she knew she was finally accepted.

She went to the supermarket and someone said "Hello Doc" and that was when she knew she was "in".

And that is the way it is like in rural communities.

Beginning her medical career in 1962, Dr Walker has seen the evolution of technology.

With so much technology, Dr Walker admitted sometimes it was difficult to keep up.

But new technology doesn't always reach the bush.

"It does make a difference but in the rural areas you don't have as much and you still have to think about things," she said.

"You have to think if they do really need a scan.

"You do have to consider it more fully.

"It's just routine in the city.

"It does make you rely on your abilities more."

Nurses are really your ally in rural hospitals too, she said.

"When you get to multiple trauma and you are the only doctor," Dr Walker said.

"The nurses in those areas are really good and they are a great support."