2023 QRMFN Backbone of the Bush Winner Announcement

15 June 2023

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​The winner of the Queensland Rural Medical Family Network’s (QRMFN) Backbone of the Bush Award was announced at the annual RDAQ Conference on the weekend. The President of QRMFN, Rebecca Telfer, had the pleasure of presenting this year’s award to Letitia Lewandowski.

The Backbone of the Bush Award recognises and acknowledges the endless support spouses and partners of rural medical doctors provide to them and their community.

Originally based in the US, Letitia and her husband felt called to work in rural Australia and moved with their two children to Kingaroy. Letitia has supported her husband throughout his training and accomplishments and their 27 years of marriage. Letitia is also passionate about health care and is an accredited registered nurse (RN). She re-skilled upon arrival to meet local nursing needs and to support her husband’s role, including training and working as a theatre and endoscopy nurse, a ward nurse and as an emergency department (ED) nurse. This ultimately led to her earning a RIPRN (rural and isolated practice registered nurse) which she used to assist with emergency medical coverage in Murgon and continues to utilise in her role as an ED nurse in Innisfail.

Over and above her professional endeavours, Letitia has served the communities she has been a part of through volunteering with chaplaincy and mentoring a discipleship group for tween girls, and has been known to stop and provide food and clothing to homeless people she encounters about town.

In Kingaroy she invented Muffin Mondays, starting the medical staff's week off with fresh baked muffins. She provided volunteer childcare to allow doctors to meet work and social obligations, and hosted get togethers, dinners and game nights to encourage community and camaraderie. She also hosted regular get togethers for medical students.

In Innisfail, she hosts weekly game nights where she opens her house up each Monday evening for students, residents and SMOs as well as other hospital staff. She provides dinner for anyone who turns up to play games and enjoy fellowship. This serves to give the students a home away from home, a sense of community and a chance for everyone to engage away from work. Additionally, she has been called to serve as a surrogate mother for students from time to time.

Amongst all of this she has lovingly raised two wonderful children. A son who works in the IT industry in Melbourne, and a daughter who is currently a 4th year medical student at James Cook University (JCU) and has ambitions to become a part of the next generation of rural doctors.

Congratulations Letitia and thank you for your invaluable contributions, commitment and passion for your rural communities and rural health care.

​Images courtesy of RDAQ