by Sulaiman Philip
23 October 2014, Media Club South Africa
It's a 140km round trip to the furthest of the five clinics in rural Eastern Cape's Amahlathi Municipality for Dr Jennifer Nash. This year's Rural Doctor of the Year uses the time to think, to relax, to chill. She sounds chipper as she talks: "It's my alone time. I have 20 minutes of radio reception, and then it's me and the beautiful scenery."
The roads that Nash travels may be an hour from East London but it may as well be another world. She is not tempted by the bright lights of that big city; instead, she is driven to help the impoverished population. "There are doctors who will tell you that you lose your skills working in a backwater or that the rural areas are where bad doctors go to practice. They could not be more wrong. My skills are sharper because I see so many different kinds of patients."
Published on allAfrica by Wilma Stassen
Creativity and an understanding of where your patients come from are key to being a successful rural doctor, says Dr Jenny Nash, who this week was named Rural Doctor of the Year.
Nash, who oversees primary healthcare clinics in Greater Kei in the Eastern Cape, was chosen by her peers in the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDASA) at their annual conference in Worcester this week.
"You have to be able to network with the doctors in the bigger centres and explain about a patient - so you can use WhatsApp, e-mail, send pictures, and sometimes you can save the patients having to travel themselves," says Nash.
Nash adds that it is essential to understand where patients come from "so that you can understand what is influencing patients, why they might not be not taking treatment and some of their beliefs that influence their health".