Connected Conversations | Katrina Morgan

Passionate about rural health and making a difference, Dr Katrina Morgan has been working remotely in South Australia for nearly 15 years. Technology over the past few months has improved connectedness for staff and students at the Adelaide Rural Clinical School, but she won’t miss all the PPE required at her clinic.

Katrina Morgan

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi! I’m Katrina. I lead the Medical Education team at the Adelaide Rural Clinical School (ARCS). I have been in this role for about 18 months. I oversee the education program for the rural cohort of fifth year medical students who spend their year in a placement in one of 10 sites across South Australia and Broken Hill. I do a small amount of teaching, but my main responsibilities include the selection of students, curriculum and assessment delivery as well as being part of the executive team of ARCS.

ARCS has a strong research presence and I have been given the opportunity to begin my research journey within the team. I have been a rural GP for nearly 15 years and have been involved in general practice training. The opportunity to be involved in undergraduate medical training presented itself, just as I was moving from the Yorke Peninsula to the Barossa Valley with my partner’s work. I live in Nuriootpa with my family–my husband, teenage daughter, primary school-aged son and Millie the Border Collie. I also have an adult daughter who lives in Adelaide. I am passionate about rural health. I have the privilege of making a difference to the lives of my patients working two days a week as a GP at Angaston Medical Centre. My role at ARCS means I have the chance to help shape the future of the rural medical workforce and I get to work with a fantastic team of people to make this happen.

What are you most looking forward to about being back on campus?

ARCS has always done things remotely as our students and staff are spread over 12 sites; 11 of them rural. Being based in the Barossa means I have to commute to Adelaide, which I did one day a week before COVID-19 but I have since been working from home. The best things about returning to campus will be the face-to-face conversations I can have with my colleagues over the course of the day and the chance to travel to our rural sites and engage with both staff and students.

What aspects of teaching online do you enjoy the most? And… what are the parts that you do not like so much?

COVID-19 has resulted in increased communication with the rural cohort both through their student rep but also regular meetings via Zoom. I think this has improved the sense of connectedness between the students and staff. The students have been amazing and appreciative of what we have been able to deliver despite the COVID-19 restrictions. The biggest disappointment of COVID-19 was not being able to run our midyear workshop in Port Pirie at the end of May when we would have brought all the students and staff together face-to-face. We successfully moved this workshop online thanks to the flexibility of our presenters and amazing efforts of our IT team, which meant our students still received the teaching.

How do you set boundaries when working at home between your work life and your home life?

My husband and I had been sharing a home office space for the last 12 months since we moved. He had just finished a ‘shed to office’ renovation weeks before COVID-19 hit so we are thankful for not trying to Zoom in the same space while I have worked from home! Working from home does require discipline but I haven’t missed my long commute to the Helen Mayo North building–a 30-minute drive plus 40-minute train ride and then 15-minute walk!

Were there any outside of work challenges that impacted you over the past few months?

The biggest challenge has been in my ‘other’ job as a rural GP… changes to Telehealth, dealing with patients with respiratory symptoms while on call, and more recently helping run one of the government funded Respiratory Clinics co-located in my general practice.

Is there anything from the past few months you would like to see implemented on a permanent basis?

The regular communication channels we have set up in ARCS between the students and staff has been really beneficial and is something I would like to see carried into the future. We recently interviewed students applying for the rural cohort in 2021 and included current students in the selection panel for the first time. On a personal note, our dog has benefited from me being home and my desperation to get my 10,000 steps some days means she gets more walks!

All things considered; what good things have you discovered or learned during this time?

Staying connected doesn’t mean you have to be in the same place. It might take a little more effort, but everyone’s voice can be heard if we use the tools available.

Name three things you won’t miss about this current moment in time.

Sitting for long periods in my home office on Zoom.

People who don’t know how to use their mute button on Zoom.

PPE! Wearing a mask for hours on end is horrible.

And the three things you won’t forget…

Time with my family without the rush of social commitments and extra-curricular activities.

Connection to my extended family–chatting via a messaging group for the first time–means I know more about my 22-year-old niece’s life than I ever have before!

Resilience and gratitude–shown by our students and my patients.

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