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Meet GPTQ Lead Medical Educator – Supervisor, Dr Erin Waters

Dr John Buckley (featured image)

Dr Erin Waters is excited to support GPTQ’s GP supervisors in her lead medical educator role.

“Our supervisors are excellent clinicians and our registrars are lucky to have them as teachers and mentors. They’re amazing examples of what it is to be a good GP, both clinically and non-clinically.”

Finding her way to medicine

Much of Dr Erin Waters’s childhood was spent in Cairns but her family decided to make the move to the ‘big smoke’ of Brisbane for her studies. Her decision to go into medicine was almost a foregone conclusion thanks to a bit of advice from an opera singer.

“When it came time to choose my university preferences, I was tossing up between medicine and music. For a brief time, I actually went to the conservatorium, but my singing teacher – told me as nicely as she could – that I really should do medicine. So I took her advice,” she laughs.

Bill helped her choose general practice

Erin studied medicine at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, but hadn’t considered specialising in general practice until she did her GP term during her degree. Spending this time working with the ‘best doctor’ she’s ever met helped her make her choice.

“As a third year medical student, I’d had a lot of exposure to many different doctors, but Dr Bill Tritton just blew me away. He was my supervisor at that time and it was amazing how much he knew about absolutely everything, as well as how much his patients loved him. I found his work to be very inspiring and eye-opening,” she says.

Long-term patient care

In addition to her work with GPTQ, Erin practises two mornings a week as a generalist GP in Coorparoo. She says the best thing about this work is the variety of presentations she sees, and the opportunity to practise continuity of care.

“I’ve been seeing many of my patients for over a decade. I enjoy helping them in all stages of their life, from planning their pregnancies, to their pregnancies, to caring for their babies as they get older. It’s lovely to have that continuous and trusting long-term relationship,” she says.

A focus on mental health

Over the years, Erin has developed a clinical special interest in mental health.  After noticing an alarming increase in the prevalence and severity of mental health presentations in her own clinical practice, she sought out additional training and work experience in this important area. This included three years working as a GP at the Headspace clinic at Woolloongabba, supporting young people with mental health conditions.

From her time spent there, Erin feels society is currently facing a big challenge in how we look after our young people, and this involves questioning how we’re currently doing things.

“Young people actually don’t need too much intervention. They just need support at some very critical times in their lives, plus the ongoing availability to check in with you when they need to,” she says.

Teaching students, registrars and now, supervisors

Erin has long had a keen interest in teaching. She began informally as a junior doctor in the hospital system mentoring her boss’s medical students, and then expanded to take on a clinical supervisor role at the University of Queensland’s School of Medicine. In 2017, she joined GPTQ as a medical educator, and also held the role of hospital liaison officer. She’s now stepped up to take on the position of lead medical educator – supervisor.

“I have great respect for our GP supervisors as they play the most important role in GP training. They’re the ones on the ground providing point of care teaching and support to our registrars, in addition to their clinical workload and running their practices,” she says.

Erin says it’s also a great privilege to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience of GPTQ’s supervisor network.

“I love getting out to visit our training practices and meet with supervisors and practice managers to see first-hand the wonderful work they’re doing. It’s fascinating to see the different approaches to practice management, and the creativity and innovation of GPs in providing excellent patient care, particularly given the significant funding challenges for the sector,” she says.

“Their genuine love of teaching really shines through, and I’m grateful for how open they are to discuss the craft of clinical supervision, and extend their skills in medical education.”