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Dr Lesley Palmer

Meet GPTQ medical educator, Dr Lesley Palmer

Dr Lesley Palmer (featured image)

It was Dr Lesley Palmer’s older brother who suggested she study medicine. She achieved good marks at school and went straight into a six-year medical degree at The University of Queensland.

After graduating, Lesley spent three years working in hospitals while deciding on her specialty. She chose general practice, as did her husband, whom she met at medical school.

“He was thinking about surgery, but then we both decided to do general practice,” says Lesley. The decision was based on “looking overall at the life we could have together and in terms of work–life balance and raising a family”.

A variety of jobs in medicine

Lesley says: “We felt that between the two of us, we could have one person working full-time, but not be that one person. And that’s essentially how it worked out.”

Lesley grew up and has spent her career in Brisbane. She has had a range of different jobs, including work as a GP, Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited (AGPAL) accreditation surveyor and member of the AGPAL Standards Committee, and at the QML Warfarin Care Clinic.

Providing essential advice for GP registrars training with GPTQ

Lesley has worked in medical education for more than 20 years. She is one of the medical educators whose primary role is the coordination and provision of training advice at GPTQ. “The area that I’ve transitioned into tends to focus on how to manage work and balance your life as a GP registrar transitioning into a GP,” says Lesley. “That is, how to maneuver your way through the training program while maintaining a healthy, stable rest-of-your-life environment.”

Lesley guides registrars through their training, both in terms of ensuring they meet the training rules and requirements for both AGPT and GPTQ, and that they’re managing their work alongside any personal issues.

The changing face of medical education

According to Lesley, medical students and registrars face issues that weren’t common when she went through her training. Graduates are older now, and many – women in particular – are navigating their early careers alongside relationships and families.

“Some of it can be quite a challenge and a juggle for a lot of the young doctors who are now getting married, having children, wanting to see if they can work part-time,” she says.

Supporting trainee doctors as they progress through the system

“A lot of the time the problems aren’t ‘I just can’t learn this stuff’, it’s more like ‘I just don’t know how I can meet all these requirements and look after my two kids and know that my husband has to study for his ophthalmology exams’,” she says. “Things are a lot more complicated than ever before.”

Lesley is passionate about helping people. She says: “I get a lot of phone calls with somebody saying, ‘It’s all too hard, I think I’m going to resign; I don’t know how I’m going to do all this’. That’s the type of registrar I work with, to help them.”

A one-on-one approach to medical education and training

Lesley meets with registrars one-on-one. They look at accurate information and make decisions about how to proceed. She says sometimes decisions are based on misinformation or ignorance.

“I like that you really can help a lot of people,” she says. “We have a lot of success helping registrars. Helping people develop those skills at an early stage in their general practice career is very useful in terms of longevity in general practice.”

In addition to her role at GPTQ, Lesley tutors first year medical students at The University of Queensland.