Hawthorn, Victoria Australia (PressExposure) January 04, 2007 -- AFTER advertising at home and overseas for more than two years, the Royal Flying Doctor Service at Dubbo has finally got a doctor on board.
Dr Ingo Stormer's arrival from Cologne in Germany could not come early enough for staff at the base, who have previously had to fly to Sydney or Tamworth to pick up doctors for emergency flights.
"It has been very difficult to operate without a doctor," said retiring senior flight nurse Sharon Murphy.
But Dr Stormer has filled only one of three doctors' positions at the national icon's Dubbo base. Another doctor is needed at Broken Hill.
"Funding was a problem initially and then it was difficult to find a doctor with the right qualifications," Ms Murphy said.
Dr Stormer, 37, took a pay cut to move from Germany to Dubbo with wife Pia two months ago. "It is actually a combination of three jobs that makes this so attractive," Dr Stormer said.
As well as working for the Flying Doctor Service, Dr Stormer spends two days in the emergency department at Dubbo's general hospital and a day lecturing at the School of Rural Health.
His first flight was a real introduction to work in Australia. "I had to fly out to a station where a man had concussion after a motorbike crash - he collided with an emu!"
Dr John Price, chief medical officer for the RFDS eastern division, said the service's shortage of doctors reflected the need for medical practitioners in rural areas generally.
The RFDS eastern division, which includes NSW, has seven doctors working for it - three of whom have been recruited overseas.
One of those is Dr Stormer, who was greeted with delight by staff at the Dubbo base. "I think it is fantastic," flight nurse Wendy Swann said.
"He is enthusiastic about working for an Australian icon and brings expertise, knowledge and skills.
"It is hard to get people with the right experience. Even the nurses we have tend to be older ... I just don't know why we can't also attract some Australians to the job."