Meet GPTQ Medical Educator (Research), Dr Marie-Louise Dick
With over 25 years of GP clinical experience and a strong penchant for academia, Dr Marie-Louise Dick is well placed to oversee and support GPTQ’s medical education research team.
“General practice has always appealed to me because of the sheer variety of patient presentations. One patient might come in with a common cold, but the very next patient could have something quite substantial and severe. I also love the continuity of care and being able to look after multiple generations of a family.”
Marie-Louise’s early years
Brisbane born and bred, Dr Marie-Louise Dick first became interested in medicine in high school.
“I really wasn’t sure what to study, but I knew I loved the sciences and wanted a career where I could help people. Medicine seemed a natural first choice,” she says.
After high school, Marie-Louise studied for her medical degree at The University of Queensland (UQ) and following her internship at the Mater Hospital, spent a year working at Mount Isa Hospital as a part of her rural scholarship.
“Practising medicine in a rural area was fascinating as I was able to see such a broad spectrum of conditions, and experience living in a rural community. Ultimately I decided to go back to Brisbane, but it was a very interesting experience and I really enjoyed it,” she says.
During her time working in the hospital setting, Marie-Louise considered specialising in paediatrics or women’s health. But she decided against it as she didn’t want to lose her general medicine skills, and chose general practice instead.
“For me, a big drawcard of general practice was the continuity of care, and the ability to look after patients day in and day out. I really enjoyed developing those long term professional relationships. They’re very special and rewarding,” she says.
A love of medical education from the start
For Marie-Louise, another attractive quality inherent in general practice was the ability to combine clinical and academic work.
“I was very interested in getting involved with medical education early on in my career. I started teaching UQ medical students in 1995 as a lecturer in general practice,” she says.
Marie-Louise’s affiliation with the university has since spanned 25 years. Whilst she retired from her UQ Associate Professor position at the end of 2015, she has continued her UQ connections as an Honorary Associate Professor in General Practice. During her time at UQ, she gained two prestigious awards for her contributions to medical education, a UQ Teaching Excellence Award and an Australian Teaching and Learning Council National Teaching Excellence Award.
“My interest in medical education prompted me to do my Masters in Public Health so that I could learn research skills alongside teaching medical students. Further down the line, I also took up a role as a GPTQ assistant medical educator, and I did that for four years,” she explains.
Whilst Marie-Louise enjoyed the combination of teaching medical students and Registrars, practising clinically and her other academic duties, she reached a point where she needed to forgo something.
“I stopped practising clinically a number of years ago. The main reason was the juggle between academic and clinical work, along with having a young child and family health issues. I did intend to go back, but I haven’t as yet as my life is so full already,” she explains.
Supporting GPTQ’s medical education research work
Right now, Marie-Louise is relishing her time as GPTQ’s Medical Educator for Research, a role she began in November 2019.
“My key role is overseeing the medical education research program undertaken by GPTQ, but also to grow our research capacity and culture. We’re really keen to undertake medical education research as it helps us provide evidence-based teaching. This not only improves our trainees’ learning experiences, but the teaching experiences of our medical educators and GP supervisors too,” she says.
“I’m also lucky to have a partial role on two of our three currently funded research projects and I’m really enjoying that. The projects are diverse and interesting, so I really couldn’t pick a favourite,” she smiles.
As both the RACGP and ACRRM only call for applications for education and research grants once per year, the months leading up to the cut-off date are incredibly busy for Marie-Louise.
“Our recent experience of submitting research grant proposals was really full on, but it was fabulous to see so many people contribute. We invited medical educators to participate in the research proposal writing phase, and it was great to get some responses from those keen to get involved, even though they may not have had much research experience previously,” she explains.
“One of the key goals of the RACGP and ACRRM in providing these education research grants is to enhance research capacity within regional training organisations, so we’re certainly meeting that goal!”
When it comes to advice for Registrars and others thinking about research, Marie-Louise has this to offer.
“It’s a very interesting process to understand, even if you don’t end up being directly involved in further research yourself. By understanding the process, you learn to appreciate the whole nature of research and what it’s trying to achieve, which is to obtain evidence to inform and improve your educational and clinical practises.”