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Gunnedah doctor’s difficult journey

One of Gunnedah’s newest doctors, Ruben Karalisingham, is an Australian success story.
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Dr Ruben Karalisingham is now working in Gunnedah.

Dr Karalisingham was a young Sri Lankan medical student struggling to gain his qualifications during the Sri Lankan Civil War.

For every week the university was open, he said it was shut for at least another three months as the country struggled with violence and conflict.

He said political groups urged students to join violent protests until a police presence was required at each university.

Eventually, police could not keep pace with the conflicts as well as guard the universities, so the universities closed.

“I was halfway through medical school,” Dr Karalisingham said.

“I was lucky my uncle was a GP in Melbourne.”

In 1989, he migrated to Australia where he attended university in Sydney and completed his medical degree.

He said he was fortunate to arrive when he did, with many migrant doctors now finding it difficult to have their qualifications recognised.

“There are still many migrants facing hardship,” he said. “They are still driving trams to buy food for their children.”

Dr Karalisingham worked as a doctor in Sydney, but wanted the country experience of working across a wide range of medical areas, so has worked in about 13 different towns in NSW, including Mudgee, Parkes, Inverell, Glen Innes, Bathurst and Cowra.

“I consider all that is a positive thing,” he said.

“Not everyone has the luxury of working in 15 hospitals.

“Country towns are all different. They all operate differently.

“I have been fortunate enough to work with different nurses and different staff. You get a wide variety of experience.”

He has also worked full-time in Warren in central NSW, but returned to Sydney while his daughter went to high school.

Because he still wanted to work in the country, Dr Karlisingham worked as a locum at Gunnedah’s hospital for three years, completing a week’s work in Sydney and travelling up to Gunnedah two weekends a month.

Now that his daughter has finished high school, Dr Karlisingham has returned to Gunnedah to work full-time.

“A lot of things attract me to rural areas,” he said.

“One of the things that makes me like a country town is that you can look after patients here and when they are at the hospital.

“It is a big bonus. When you are in big cities, you can’t do that, because there are specialists and other people who

work there.

“Here, it is right next door.”

Dr Karalisingham said while he enjoyed all aspects of general practice, he had been prompted to find a way to do more for his patients suffering chronic pain.

While living in Warren, he travelled to Sydney on weekends to study acupuncture and said he believed acupuncture could help ease the chronic pain of some patients.

“I find it works well for muscular skeletal complaints,” he said.

“It is a practice used all over the world.

“I still practice western medicine to the maximum, but when there is chronic pain, I might do acupuncture to relieve that pain.

“It never cures anything, but it can reduce the level of pain.”

Dr Karalisingham said he saw the need for the practice when patients in Warren came to him with chronic pain who often had to wait a year for an operation.

Reducing the pain could reduce the dependence of the patient on painkillers.

Dr Karalisingham said he was enjoying the country life and had been happy to come to Gunnedah, the town he had come to know the best during his time as a locum to country hospitals.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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