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Murray Bridge GP receives rural doctor of the year award
The Rural Doctors Association of Australia has recognised Dr Peter Rischbieth for going 'above and beyond' and helping improve access to quality health care.
A Murray Bridge GP has been recognised for his exceptional work with a rural doctor of the year award.
Dr Peter Rischbieth has been practising at Bridge Clinic for 35 years, while also leading the rural doctors movement in South Australia for over a decade.
As president of the Rural Doctors Association of South Australia, he helped lead negotiations for a fairer contract for rural GPs in SA who provide visiting medical officer services to their local hospitals.
This voluntary work was in addition to his regular work which, like his rural colleagues at the time, was supporting patients and the wider community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
RDAA president Megan Belot said Dr Rischbieth’s tireless contributions had been critical in supporting rural doctors in SA and beyond.
“For South Australia to make inroads into the significant shortage of rural doctors in that state, significant changes in the contract conditions for SA’s rural doctors needed to occur,” Dr Belot said.
“Peter not only provided leadership throughout the negotiations, but also helped to inform health policy-makers in the SA government and SA Health department on the broader issues of rural medical workforce planning – and he is not done yet.
“The success of these negotiations was critical in helping to address the severe rural doctor workforce shortages that have been impacting SA over many years.”
Dr Rischbieth said he was honoured to receive the award and was lucky to have the support of this family, friends and colleagues over the years.
“Rural practice is one of the most rewarding medical careers in so many ways,” Dr Rischbieth said.
“I have had the privilege of serving Murray Bridge, which like many country towns is a community of people with many varied and complex conditions – I can safely say I have never been bored.
“I had one of the best career opportunities that anyone training for rural medicine could have; strong rural role models, including my father and uncle, plus a great mentor in my local GP, as well as enthusiastic medical supervisors who inspired me during my training.”
While on holiday with his family in the 1960s, Dr Rischbieth would watch his father, a neurologist, and his uncle, a pediatrician, provide free consultations to the Penneshaw community on Kangaroo Island, saving local patients the 100-kilometre trip on dirt roads to the closest available care.
Dr Rischbieth’s pathway into medicine was not simple, however.
He was accepted into teachers’ college after not receiving the required tertiary score for medicine; he then repeated year 12 and received a last-gasp offer into medicine.
Dr Rischbieth has been a partner at the Bridge Clinic for 35 years, the principal medical officer at Murray Bridge Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital for 21 years, and a board member of the Country SA Primary Health Network since 2017.
He has made an effort to pass his expertise onto other doctors by teaching and supervising medical students, interns and GP registrars in Murray Bridge for many years, and acting as a mentor to many future and junior physicians.
Overall, Dr Rischbieth said his career had been a rewarding one.
“A real highlight has been providing continuous care for members of the same family, from delivering their newborn babies to providing quality end-of-life care to their great grandparents … but it really is hard to choose just one highlight from what has been a career full of special moments.”
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