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What prompted you to apply
for the AMP job?
I studied medicine at the University of
Tasmania, and every day I walked past
the Aurora Australis (AA) icebreaker
berthed on the Hobart waterfront.
I dreamed of travelling on the AA to
work on an AAD station and worked
from that point on to gain the skills and
training necessary to apply.
I am a rural generalist and a member
of ACRRM, the Australian College of
Rural and Remote Medicine. This style
of remote work is exactly what we train
for. As the single medical practitioner
on Macquarie Island I provide
comprehensive medical care to all of
our station expeditioners and also to
visiting/passing summer tourists.
external assistance (other than by
telecommunications) in case of a serious
event is at least four days away.
every day as an AMP can be different
and has unlimited potential. The scope
and complexity, and opportunity for
autonomy appeal to me. There is the
thrill of diagnosis of undifferentiated
illness, the responsibility of high-level
clinical decision-making, rewarding
procedural work, and coordination
of primary care and public health
programs that respond directly to the
needs of my remote community.
Despite the 24/7 on-call requirements,
I am trained to deal with every possible
medical emergency and I have the
reassurance of world leading telehealth
support from the AAD Polar Medicine
Unit in Hobart.
An AMP has the perfect mix of vocation
and location. Macquarie Island is a
wonder spot in the world, which very
few people have the opportunity to visit
let alone live on. Here I can experience
remote community living for a year with
the most interesting and adventurous
people who are all experts in their
scientific or trades fields.
What special training did you
The Antarctic Division bases are located
in remote extreme environments with
severely limited (sometimes impossible)
access. Rural generalist training,
through ACRRM, provides a solid base
for AMP work with comprehensive
training in primary care, anaesthetics,
obstetrics and emergency medicine.
extra AAD training specific to the
AMP role includes dentistry, surgery,
physiotherapy, psychology, forensics,
laboratory methods (including
microbiology and haematology),
public health water and sewage testing
methods, equipment sterilisation,
radiology and point of care equipment
All wintering expeditioners also undergo
wilderness first aid, dangerous goods
handling, boating, search and rescue
and firefighting training (including
Given the intense social isolation of
station life, the AAD has extensive formal
and informal organisation culture and
station team compatibility development
training programs pre-departure.
My other roles on station include
Australia Post postmaster, ARPANSA
scientist and hydroponics gardener –
all with their own training requirements.
And of course, all AMPs must have
their appendix removed before
Being a health
professional in one of the
remotest and most isolated
parts of the world is challenge
enough, but add in one of the
most extreme climates and the job
takes on challenges which would
faze most of us.
Not so Dr Marion Davies, a pharmacist
and medical practitioner currently
stationed on Macquarie Island,
an Australian subantarctic island in
the Southern Ocean about halfway
between Australia and Antarctica.
(2,137km from Melbourne.)
Access is by sea only, with two Australian
Antarctic Division (AAD) resupply voyages
The island, known affectionately
by those who visit it as ‘Macca’, is a
world heritage-listed nature reserve,
managed by Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife.
One of the four Australian Antarctic
Division (AAD) bases, it is occupied
year-round with a small specialised staff
fulfilling science and support programs.
This season 13 expeditioners are
wintering at Macquarie Island, including
Dr Davies whose title is Antarctic Medical
Dr Davies, however, adds a new dimension
to the medical practitioner role, having
been a pharmacist for seven years before
commencing medical school.
In an email exchange between ‘Macca’ and
Australian Pharmacist, Dr Davies provided
some insights about herself and her role
on the Island. You can Follow Marion on
dr marion davies
macquarie island is about five kilometres wide
and 34 km long, with an area of 128km2.
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