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Meet GPTQ medical educator, Dr Chris Briggs

Dr Chris Briggs (featured image)

Dr Chris Briggs always knew he wanted to solve problems and help people. It just took him a few years to find the perfect vocation for doing this.

“It was probably during high school I realised I was fairly good at the sciences. I’d always been interested in people as well as solving problems, and in medicine you get to do both. That said, I did play up a bit in high school so I didn’t get into medicine the first time.”

Studying medicine

Chris may not have been a model student in high school but thrived at Melbourne University, where he parlayed a science degree into a graduate place studying medicine.

“I got exposed to general practice in medical school and quite enjoyed a term I did there. But I think unfortunately during your training and medical school, you do get steered more towards other specialties. I left med school fairly certain I was going to be an orthopaedic surgeon. However, when I started doing it I really didn’t like it.”

Hospital terms

Chris decided to take a step back from orthopaedics with a year of general hospital terms. And what better place for self-reflection than on Queensland’s sunny Gold Coast.

“It’s a wonderful place,” he laughs. “I’m amazed not everyone lives here.”

It was here he also found himself exposed to the world of general practice and finally found the sense of purpose and balance he’d been yearning for.

“There are a lot of great things about general practice. I like needing to know a little bit about everything and not simply saying ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you, that’s not my area’.”

Chris has also grown to appreciate the deep connections with patients.

“Earlier on you see more acute care, but after a few years you get your own families and patients, and it’s really rewarding being part of their lives.”

As the father of two young children, Chris also values the flexibility general practice provides.

“There are a lot of work–life benefits, including the fact there’s no night shift. I’ve got a seven-year-old and a five-year-old, and working in general practice allows me to be involved their education and do some of the school runs, which I (mostly) enjoy!”

A move into medical education – first for registrars and now, supervisors

Chris has always relished the teaching aspect of medicine and as such, leapt at the chance to take up a role as GPTQ’s medical educator for the Gold Coast district in 2015.

“Most medical educators would say they get more out of it than they put into it. It’s great for your own education as you do have to stay up to date with things. But even more than that, I just really love being in a room with other colleagues and our registrars, and hearing their stories,” he says.

Chris currently holds regular registrar workshops in his areas of special interest (women’s and children’s health), alongside doing ECT visits.

“I go out to the registrar’s practice and sit in with them for a half day. I try to make it as relaxed as possible, and really enjoy the one-on-one time with them,” he says.

“I now also have an exciting new role in supervisor support. It will be fantastic to explore what our supervisors and training practices are doing, and share this across GP training, both locally and more broadly. I think that by improving the experience for our supervisors, we greatly enhance the training experience of our registrars,” he says.

General practice is so much more than just coughs and colds

Chris is also adamant many people don’t fully appreciate the benefits of becoming a GP, and urges junior doctors to keep their minds open when considering their specialty.

“My advice is to try everything because I locked myself into orthopaedics and regret that I didn’t explore more options earlier on,” he says.

“I’d also say don’t ever exclude general practice because you think it’s limiting. A lot of people’s impression of GP is quite wrong – we are not dealing with coughs and colds and blood pressure tablets. Yes, we do that, but you can also have a special area of interest. Mine is paediatrics and I mainly see paediatric cases. I really love having that special skill.”