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Rural Road to Health

May 10, 2024

Dr Wiktor Szczudlinski is a general practitioner who qualified in Poland and is now working in Scotland.  He shares his experience of working as a rural GP, why he decided to leave rural practice, and how he has gotten more involved in health tech and consulting with health tech start-ups.  

Episodes summary:

00.40  Dr Szczudlinski talks about his experience moving from Poland to rural Scotland

03.35  What were the challenges while working in rural Scotland?

05.30  Who were the members of the wider healthcare team?

08.30  Were there any specific challenges to caring for the local community?

10.15  How was the work different in the summer compared to the winter?

11.30  How would you compare rural and urban practice?

15.30  What factors influenced his decision to move to a more urban area?

18.30  Why did he decide to become more involved in health tech and entrepreneurship? 

22.00  What has he learned about health tech?  How can digital solutions be implemented in rural areas?

35.50  Top tips for people thinking about a rural health career  


Key messages:

Mixture of work as a rural GP - usual GP clinic, out of hours/urgent care, and working in a small local hospital.

Support via telemedicine with a larger hospital center and good connections with emergency retrieval services.

The job provides a lot of variety, you are well supported and feel part of a team.

Local community works in professions where there can be serious injuries.  

People can present late with symptoms as they often try to carry on, this can lead to more advanced 

No additional staffing in the summer despite an influx of tourists.  

Workload is different in urban vs rural - people assume that the workload will be less in rural areas, this is not the case, distances make a difference, it can take a long time to do a home visit.  There can be a lack of infrastructure such as mobile network access, this can make it challenging to call for help in an emergency and it can take longer for help to arrive.  Fewer resources are available in rural areas.  

The assumption that it is less busy in rural medicine is not the case, the number of the tasks may be lower but the time needed for those tasks is longer.   You need to be more confident in your skills and go outside your comfort zone, there is a big element of urgent and emergency care.  You need to be prepared - anything could happen.

Family factors played into the decision to leave rural practice and move to a more urban area.  Housing is a big problem in rural Scotland.

When AI started becoming more prominent he started learning more about this, writing about what he was learning on LinkedIN.  Started to be contacted by health tech founders and started consulting and sharing his healthcare experience.

Doctors often do not pay attention to things outside of medicine.  It can be important to step out of your comfort zone and learn something new.

We need to pay attention to what is happening with tech and AI as we will be seeing more of that.  There is scope for these tools to free us from mundane tasks and paperwork.  

Digital solutions may be implemented faster in rural health as there is a long history of using telehealth in these areas.  

There is a need for digital solutions in rural areas as there is a lack of doctors, this can be a solution to help provide care with the support of other members of the healthcare team.

When the only doctor on the island gets snowed in for a few days, the only solution is to provide remote digital consultations.  

Give rural medicine a try, it can be an adventure in beautiful surroundings and you become part of the community.  


Thank you for listening to the Rural Road to Health!