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Meet GPTQ medical educator, Dr Kate Krimmer

Dr Kate Krimmer (featured image)

Early in her medical career, Dr Kate Krimmer knew general practice was the right fit for her. She enjoyed both the variety and lifestyle options it offered.

“I’ve never really been that keen on the hospital environment. I knew general practice was more interesting for me. I also like the idea of being that person who deals with whatever happens on the spot. When you get more specialised, you tend to lose the ability to deal with that broken leg or the child with a rash.”

Early years

Kate’s family were farmers, and as a child she spent a lot of time in rural areas. She then went to high school in Toowoomba and was steered towards a food, science and technology degree.

“I’d sort of fallen into that through a high school guidance counsellor who really had no idea, and neither did I,” she laughs. “I got to the end of the degree without really understanding what the job entailed. I worked in the industry for a couple of years but decided that ‘no, it’s time to go and figure out who I was’.”

Finding her feet

There began a sojourn overseas to Canada and the UK, incorporating travel and work. Upon her return to Australia, she took a job in banking, which she loved. But the demands of a mortgage forced her to take up full-time work at a different company.

“I absolutely hated that job,” she says. “I saw a career counsellor who did personality profiling, and medicine came up as a good match. I thought, well no, that’s for the smart kids! I didn’t think it was possible, but she talked me through how the graduate program works, and it became achievable.”

Kate promptly sat the GAMSAT and then studied medicine at The University of Queensland, spending her clinical years in Toowoomba.

Moving into medical education

Kate currently works as a GP at Cooroy Doctors Surgery in the Noosa hinterland. But this year she’s also taking the plunge into medical education as a GPTQ assistant medical educator. She was drawn to the idea as a new Fellow in 2014 when GPTQ approached her to do external clinical teaching (ECT) visits.

“As a registrar, you can be nervous knowing someone’s going to be looking over your shoulder, but I received some great feedback from my medical educators. I thought this was a good opportunity to do that for others,” she says. “I also learn a lot from the new registrars fresh from the hospital.

The right teaching environment

Kate is keen to create a safe learning environment for her registrars. With encouragement, she hopes they’ll extend themselves further.

“I don’t want to be a scary teacher because I think that impacts on learning,” she says.

Kate will work alongside another experienced GPTQ medical educator in the North Metro area. In addition to some ECT visits, she’ll focus her efforts on teaching registrars in small group situations.

Her teaching focus

“My bias is communication skills, so I tend to focus strongly on that,” says Kate. “Some registrars won’t let the patients speak uninterrupted, so I encourage them to stop, literally sit on their hands and bite their tongue, to let the patient story come to them.”

Kate learnt a lot of her communication skills from GPTQ medical educator Graham Emblen, who taught her at The University of Queensland.

“He was quite an inspiration. He had a way of ‘magic-ing’ the answers out of his patients. Somehow he’s able to identify how he does that and teach those skills as well,” she says.

Advice to registrars

Kate says it’s important for registrars to “be curious and interested”.

“I think those are the two single best things. You don’t have to be the smartest, most academic doctor. But practise those two things and you’re likely to go look for an answer and get it.”

Personal life

At home, Kate has a three-year-old daughter and a very supportive husband.

“He runs his own business, so he’s got a little bit of flexibility. The practice where I work is family friendly and flexible. It can be a juggle at times, but it’s manageable because I’ve got a good support network.”