About two years ago I was a young doctor working in Croatia and training in family medicine. As in many areas of the world Croatia is country that is experiencing a lack of doctors and is struggling to retain its health workforce. This problem is felt most strongly in rural communities. Due to these pressures I found myself working in one such small rural community because there was a doctor shortage in the area. This meant that my family medicine training was put on hold and I was asked to relocate to provide primary healthcare for this community. The move was supposed to be temporary while they attempted to recruit doctors for the area. As the months went by it became clear that they would not be able to recruit new doctors. During my time there two other doctors left their posts.
There was no other doctor nearby to provide support, emergency services where stretched over a large area and there was a lack of equipment and other infrastructure in the area. This lead to me often feeling overwhelmed and struggling to cope with the healthcare needs of the community. I realised that after six months I was starting to feel the signs of burnout and was not being provided support regarding my continuing training. I made the difficult decision to leave that situation and restart my training in another country. In so doing I left a rural community without access to primary healthcare.
This story is one that seems to repeat it’s self all over the world.