By Sam Watson

LAST month, the Victorian Rural Health awards granted Dr Nola Maxfield a length of service award for her 35 years of service to the Wonthaggi Medical Group.

The awards night was held online, but unfortunately for Dr Maxfield, it was when Wonthaggi was having a power outage.

But she said it was still a nice recognition to the time she’s spent in the community.

“It’s good to have the time that I’ve lived and worked in this community acknowledged,” Dr Maxfield said.

“I wouldn’t do anything different if I did it again; I would still come here and work, it’s been a great place.”

Dr Maxfield studied to become a general practitioner at Monash University, and before coming to Wonthaggi, she spent six months in Echuca.

Now in her early 60s, Dr Maxfield said she’s loved working in Wonthaggi.

“It’s a great community to live and work in; it’s given me a great breadth of practice from delivering babies to looking after people with palliative care at the end of their life,” Dr Maxfield said.

“You get to see multiple members of the same family, different generations, and you get to see people and know them over a long period of time.


“So even if somebody hasn’t consulted you for a few years, it doesn’t take you long to catch up on what’s happened in between and go on from there.”
Dr Maxfield’s husband Neil Rankine, who is a former mayor of the Bass Coast Shire, has also played a big role in the community.

Their two kids grew up here and they are now very happy to have two grandchildren.

Dr Maxfield said the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been one of the biggest challenges in her career, but she said the early days in her career were tough.

When she first started at the Wonthaggi Medical Group, they were the only doctors servicing the Wonthaggi hospital.

So, they all provided 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week care, both in the community and the hospital.

“We had surgical on-call service from doctors who lived and worked in Wonthaggi, and unfortunately people with those skills have not been replaced to actually come and live in rural Australia,” Dr Maxfield said.

Adding to her sentiment about Wonthaggi being a great place to live, Dr Maxfield encouraged young doctors to keep an open mind about where they reside.

“It’s been a great place to live and work and bring up a family, and I would say to any young people out there who are thinking of studying medicine or one of the other health fields, to come and give it a go. You can have a wonderful career in rural Victoria and particularly in the Bass Coast.”