Dr Karen Savery
Dr Karen Savery, GP and assistant medical educator
“I’ve had an interest in medicine since I was a child,” says Dr Karen Savery, Brisbane-based assistant medical educator and GP. “My mother was a nurse. She worked in aged care, and my brother and I used to go to the nursing home when we were children.”
Karen has always been fascinated by the human body, medicine and people. Studying at The University of Queensland, she graduated in 1997.
“I knew fairly early on that I wanted to go into general practice,” says Karen. “I joined the program in my first year, then spent an extra year in the hospital in Brisbane.”
The rewards of continuity of care
Karen’s general practice is located in the Brisbane suburb of Ashgrove. She, her husband, son and dog, who thinks it’s the other child, also live in the Brisbane area.
“The one thing I really enjoy about general practice is the continuity of care, seeing people throughout their changing life,” says Karen. “It’s being able to journey with people, as well as looking at problems and seeing their resolution. As a specialist, you may not get that opportunity.”
Work–life balance and flexibility as a GP
Karen also enjoys the flexibility her work provides, with work–life balance playing a significant role in her decision to become a GP. “I enjoy my time outside of work as much as I enjoy my time inside of work,” she says. General practice allows Karen to explore all the areas of medicine she is interested in. “I enjoy women’s health. I do a lot in my own practice, as well as paediatrics and geriatrics. I get to do a bit of everything, so it’s great.”
Helping GP registrars achieve their goals as a medical educator
For eight years, Karen examined for The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) in their practical exams. This led to her becoming an assistant medical educator, and she has been involved with GPTQ for the last three years.
“What I enjoy most about being a medical educator is the ability to learn alongside the registrars that are coming through – they teach you as much as you teach them,” says Karen. “I think my general practice has improved because of my medical education work as much as I am hopefully improving others.”
Building useful skills in the GPs of the future
Karen conducts medical education with the Metro North Hospital and Health Service in Carseldine. She is passionate about assisting registrars develop their skills from the beginning to the end of the year.
“I’m helping them grow into being good GPs, not just able to pass exams, but ones that will take general practice into the future,” she says. Most important, says Karen, is the ability of a GP to really look at cases and break them down.
Daily enjoyment in the general practice lifestyle
Karen’s advice to medical students is to consider general practice. “It’s got such a wealth of opportunities to develop different skills,” she says. “You want to be able to do what you enjoy every day and, fortunately, that is what I do. I enjoy my job and I get to enjoy it every day.”
However, Karen also understands the importance of making time for leisure and family. “I’m learning Italian just for fun. I like to go bike riding and have fun with the dog; we go fishing and to the beach,” she says. “Some weeks it’s easier than others, but I think the way to find balance is to give yourself permission to say no sometimes, whether that be to work demands or family demands. If you don’t make the time to do some of these things, you’ll never have the time.”