No longer just a dream to fly with the Flying Doctor

Date published

09 Aug 2015

‚ÄčAnne-Marie Rojahn originally heard of the Royal Flying Doctor Service through the Flying Doctors TV show when it aired in Europe in the 90's.

Born in Switzerland, growing up in Norway and having travelled extensively throughout her childhood, Anne-Marie's passion for aviation was the reason why the Flying Doctors caught her interest.

Inspired by the way the TV show portrayed the RFDS and the people of the outback in such a down-to-earth way, Anne-Marie read up on the medicine after each episode and learnt a lot from the show.

Graphic: Anne-Marie in red sand

Anne-Marie travelled to Cairns to find out more and follow her aspiration to train as a pilot. Her first encounter with the outback was captivating and to this day it hasn't lost any of its charm for her.

The TV show gave me an insight into an aeromedical service that, until then, I knew little about, but as the characters and events were fictional I was curious to find out about the real thing. I paid a visit to the Cairns and Alice Springs bases and saw what a truly unique organisation this is, how passionately the staff go about their work and the impact this service has on people who live and work in remote areas. This opened up a whole new world and I decided they have the best job in the world and make such a difference in peoples lives! From that moment on I knew this would be worth changing my life around for.

Graphic: night shift

Earlier this year Anne-Marie Rojahn worked hands-on with the RFDS Charleville, Qld team as a 6th year Swiss medical student, while doing research for her Masters thesis.

Her plan is to complete her training as a doctor and then return to Australia to work for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

"Having already worked with RFDS Charleville back in 2013 I returned to do research for my master thesis early this year and worked full time as part of my elective year, attended clinics, inter-hospital transfers, primary responses and took part in emergency medicine simulations.

"As a medical student you learn and practice the skills you need for your future as a doctor, but the great thing about working with the RFDS is that it also gives you a unique opportunity to gain experience in subjects not widely covered in medical school such as rural-, remote- and telemedicine.

"Being part of this aeromedical organisation was an indispensable and incredibly beneficial experience, as well as a huge contrast to working in a city hospital."

Team Birdsville

Anne-Marie's thesis describes the evolution and use of telemedicine by the RFDS in bringing patient care to all people in rural and remote Australia. Selected case studies focus on telecommunication in primary health care (clinics, tele-pharmacy, remote area consultations), emergencies and retrievals. This project gave Anne-Marie an opportunity not only to work with, but also to study and identify all aspects of the service and to meet the most openhearted, amazing people all over the outback.

There are still a few mountains to climb and hurdles to overcome with medical exams and accreditation in Australia, but Anne-Marie hopes to be back really soon.

"I miss the work, the staff and patients, this beautiful country and the sound of the Flying Doctor aircraft. "