Rebecca is motivated to make a difference

Rebecca is motivated to make a difference

 Royal Flying Doctor Service of WA chief executive officer Rebecca Tomkinson.

Royal Flying Doctor Service of WA chief executive officer Rebecca Tomkinson.


International Day of Rural Women - Rebecca Tomkinson


HEALTHCARE has been in the spotlight since COVID-19 swept across the world and brought with it a global health and economic crisis.

The past six months have put more pressure on health services than ever before.

Rebecca Tomkinson, the chief executive officer for the Royal Flying Doctor Service of WA (RFDS), has been at the heart of it, with her passion for helping regional Western Australians remaining a top priority.

Leading an emergency hospital, an 18-fleet airline and five regional bases across the world's largest health jurisdiction is no easy feat on an ordinary day - a global pandemic has certainly been testing.

Rebecca has remained the clear-headed, compassionate and strong leader that regional Western Australians need, but she claimed RFDS' response effort was a team effort.

"As the coronavirus pandemic reached our shores in WA, we had to rapidly work out how to keep our patients and crews safe while in the air," Rebecca said.

"We still had to provide our core services all while embedding COVID-19 protocols and processes into every aspect of our service."

She said the organisation's response was swift and collaborative.

"We developed best practice clinical guidelines for our COVID-19 response and our retrievals are conducted with the highest clinical governance practice," she said.

"I am incredibly proud of our crews for their innovation, courage and resilience as they continue to work on the frontline of our 24-hour emergency retrieval service.

"Today, we are the only service still operating aeromedical retrieval for suspected coronavirus patients in WA, so far retrieving 106 suspected or confirmed cases from across the State."

While the past few months have been some of the most challenging in her career, leading the RFDS team through the coronavirus crisis has been a highlight.

When reflecting on her career so far Rebecca also recalled her first job after finishing university, working in local government as a community development officer, as being another career highlight, which strengthened her passion for community support and services.

"This job gave me a greater awareness of my passion for building capacity and capability," she said.

Regional WA has always been a major part of Rebecca's life - growing up in Karratha and Northam before moving to Perth for her studies.

While she would have never expected to be in the role that she now is, looking back Rebecca has been motivated by her passion to make a difference.

"Anywhere I go, people want to share with me what our service means to them, their experience with us and how we helped them in their time of need," she said.

"I often get thank you calls, cards, letters, emails and watching our former patients reunite with our crews is truly special.

"Knowing that we contribute and help to build regional capability helps sustain us through some of the challenging times."

Regardless of her gender, Rebecca believes it is important for a leader to be authentic.

"I am learning as I age to focus on what's really important - and that is to be myself," she said.

"I believe staying connected to your emotional wellbeing is part of being an effective leader.

"Taking the time to set, track and reflect on my personal and professional goals has a grounding effect and helps me to stay connected to my beliefs, values and purpose."


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