BENDIGO doctor Skye Kinder has been elected as vice president of the Rural Doctors Association of Victoria.
Dr Kinder, who was previously Victoria's Young Australian of the Year, said the new role was a great honour.
"It's pretty exciting given I'm still in the more junior stage of my career," she said.
"I feel very privileged that the Rural Doctors Association of Victoria has put their trust in me to advocate and continue the work I have been doing."
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Dr Kinder has been advocating for the rural generalist pathway to be established. The pathway is designed to facilitate the training of doctors for regional and rural areas.
"Part of my ongoing work will be providing feedback to that program," she said. "Personally as a psychiatry trainee, I would love to advocate more for mental health in the regions.
"It has come into the spotlight recently in the context of COVID-19, but it has been an area of need for some time."
Dr Kinder said like many others, this year had been challenging for health professionals.
"It's a unique position to be in," she said. "We're working with people who are having mental health issues, while you're also going through the same thing yourself.
"Normally when you're treating people, you don't have first-hand experience. But we all have a shared understanding of what the experience has been like."
Dr Kinder said rural and regional communities should be proud of how they have handled 2020.
"I think their strength and sense of community has never been more evident than it has been in the past 12 months," she said. "First with the bushfires and then with COVID.
"The recent outbreak in Shepparton has shown how regional communities support one another."
Dr Kinder said her recent achievements showed there was no limit to success.
"Whatever you want to achieve - whether that's in your career or in the community - you absolutely can," she said. "I have been told a number of times that the things I'm working towards are not achievable.
"It's important not to listen to those people because they are wrong."
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