Jungle boats to bush trucking – Nadja likes ‘remote’


Posted on 22nd September 2016

nadja-kutschke3edmIt seems some people are hard-wired to chase after extraordinarily different life-and-work experiences – and Nadja Kutschke is certainly one of them.

Bright-eyed and with a clear plan for her life, Nadja is a proud Berliner who has just completed an internship helping to staff the Heart of Australia mobile clinic on its fortnightly cardiology circuits through western, southwestern and central Queensland.

She worked fitting heart-monitoring halters, running blood pressure and respiratory tests and – a special first for her – helping with the preparation and setup of the semi-trailer to welcome patients at each of the dozen towns on the clinic circuits.

The whole bush clinic circuits experience was new, but Nadja already knew the country she was covering because she travelled the Outback widely on earlier tourist visits.

However, this “working” trip came hard on the heels of a wildly different experience – a month’s internship deep in the Amazonas region of Peru in South America.

The physical contrast was amazing. In the jungle of the Amazonas, the only way to travel was by boat; a far, far cry from the seemingly endless road travel of our Far West. 

“I was based in a village of just 30 residents, but we were serving 3,000 Urarinas people – everyone and everything travelling by boat – in the Rio Chambira area,” Nadja explains. “We were bringing a general medical service, including checking the nutrition of the local people”.

Nadja was just 16 when she began her continuing Australian experience as an exchange student at the Gold Coast’s Robina High School – and she has maintained close contact with her host family from that time.

“Really, it’s just like coming home to be in Queensland,” she says.

Nadja is in her fourth year of six years studying at Berlin’s Charitḗ University that she describes as the “biggest hospital with an attached university in Europe”. She hopes to specialise in gynaecology and obstetrics when she graduates.

She’s taking home an appreciation of, as she describes it, how much more in medicine General Practitioner doctors are entrusted here than in Germany and, although it might seem strange, Nadja believes that the model of the Heart of Australia travelling clinics could be a big plus for Germany where, she says, rural and remote area citizens often have no local access to doctors.

So, ending her fourth visit to Australia, Nadja says with determination that she’ll be back – because she “is fascinated” by the ideal of “bringing specialist medicine to remote areas”. 

Interview with Peter MacDonald.