Dr Chris Briggs
Meet GPTQ medical educator, Dr Chris Briggs
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 and enjoyed sciences,” he says. “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.”
Chris may not have been the 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. When I left medical school, the two other things I had enjoyed were paediatrics and orthopaedics, and 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.”
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 famed 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.
Discovering general practice
“There are a lot of great things about general practice,” he says. “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 enjoyable 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 that there’s no night shift, which I love,” he says. “I’ve got a two-and-a-half-year-old and a five-month-old so this makes things easy. Well, not easy, but easier!”
Becoming a medical educator
Chris is in his first year as a medical educator with GPTQ. He’s always enjoyed the teaching aspect of medicine, so when an opportunity to formalise this role arose, he leapt at the chance. Chris enjoys the breadth of the role, ranging from classroom-style presentations to more intensive one-on-one coaching.
“My main responsibility is delivering the medical education sessions for the Gold Coast city area. That’s either myself discussing a topic or arranging a specialist to come in and run those education sessions.”
Meeting with GP registrars
“I also do visits with the registrars where I actually go out to their practices and sit in with them for half a day. I try to make it as relaxed as possible, and really enjoy the one-on-one time with the registrars.”
Chris believes his teaching role makes him a better doctor.
“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 enjoy being in a room with other colleagues, whether they’re registrars or not, and hearing their stories.”
More than 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: 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 very 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.”
“General practice is a fantastic specialty,” he says. “You can make it whatever you want it to be.”
Chris works as a medical educator with our GPTQ prevocational doctors in the Gold Coast District, providing them with valuable training to further their GP careers.