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GPTQ’s Dr John De Vries relationship with the RACGP dates back 35 years. Here he talks about his history with the college, and what a lifetime membership means to him.

John signed up with the college voluntarily in 1985 when it wasn’t compulsory for GPs to hold membership or even a Fellowship.

“The only people who got a fellowship back then were those who thought it was a good idea. I decided I wanted a postgraduate qualification in general practice so I had to join the college to be able to sit the exams, and remain to keep my vocational registration. But it was really about meeting an academic standard to show I was serious about being a GP,” he says.

Over his 35 year history with the college, John has played a number of active roles. After gaining fellowship in 1985, he became involved with the college’s training program as a medical educator in Rockhampton, alongside his full time GP duties.

He says: “I then became a college examiner for the OSCE exam, and a little while later, a member of the RACGP Queensland faculty board and the Education Committee. I went on to chair that board, representing Queensland at the national level.”

It was in this capacity that John made one of his proudest achievements.

“When I was on the National Education Committee, that’s when the concept of a three year cycle and mandatory continuing medical education came in,” he says. “The RACGP has a robust continuing medical education program for GPs that’s continually assessed and upgraded to meet community and professional expectations. I feel very happy about having contributed to set those standards and getting the ball rolling on continuing medical education.”

For John, receiving news he has been granted lifetime membership with the RACGP for his contributions to the college means more than just the fact that he never has to pay membership fees again!

“My professional identity as a doctor is very strongly linked to being a member and a Fellow with the RACGP. Out of all the medical associations I’m part of, the college is the one that I’ve been most involved with and put most effort into,” he says. “In some ways, the college is a little bit like a professional family to me, and it would have been hard to let go when I retire. Lifetime membership means I don’t have to.”

John has no regrets about his journey with RACGP. He says: “I would do it all again. My involvement with the RACGP has substantially contributed to my enjoyment of general practice and my feeling that it’s a really worthwhile career.”

When it comes to GP training with RACGP, John says he’s not quite sure what it will look like over the next 10 years. But he’s excited for the college to take back control of GP training over the coming three years. He says ‘GPs can be confident it’s their college and their college alone’ that’s in control of setting the standards for GP education.