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Meet Dr Tiffany Flynn

Dr John Buckley (featured image)

Having been through the GPTQ training program herself, Dr Tiffany Flynn is well placed to offer Registrars guidance and support on their road to becoming primary care professionals.

“In general practice, you get to tailor your career. You can see as much or as little as you want. You can have diversity and continuity of practise across the lifespan, but you can also dive into a niche area and make it your own.”

Early thoughts about medicine

Dr Tiffany Flynn spent her formative years living on the Gold Coast with her Kiwi mother and Swiss father, and only recently recalled an early love for medicine.

“Just the other day, I was randomly looking through some old primary school gear at my parent’s house, and I discovered a small journal I’d written when I was about eleven years old. In it I’d written that I wanted to be a doctor. That surprised me as I couldn’t remember writing that,” she smiles.

After graduating high school, she did an undergraduate degree in biomedical science, and then her medical degree at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. But it was during her intern year that she decided to move to Toowoomba for ‘a bit of a sea change without the sea change’.

“I wanted a less fast-paced metropolitan life. I was networking with a few senior doctors in Toowoomba and they convinced me that it was a good place to start my medical career. I spent my first two junior doctor years there,” she says.

A taste of rural life and work

Unsure about which direction she wanted to take during her training, Tiffany took on an 18 month obstetric registrar post in Bundaberg, and followed that up with six months in paediatrics. It was during this time she met her now husband, who was also working as a doctor in the same field.

She then opted to try her hand at being a rural generalist, working in Chinchilla for a year.

“When I was there, I think the population was around 5000 people, so it was a fairly small and close knit. I really enjoyed the camaraderie between colleagues and felt like I was part of a community,” she says.

During this period, her husband was working for the Rural Flying Doctors at Mount Isa and they struggled with being apart from each other. They both decided to move back to Toowoomba, her husband taking up a post in public health, while Tiffany put procedural obstetrics to the side to concentrate on clinic-based general practice and motherhood.

The Toowoomba GP life

As a mum to a one year old son, Tiffany currently works part-time practising two days a week at The Range Medical High Street in Toowoomba, with another day set aside for medical education. She also manages to squeeze in a half day doing clinical editing work for a new PHN health pathways program, designed to help GPs navigate referrals into the hospital system.

Now that she has a young family, she appreciates the work-life balance general practice offers all the more.

“It certainly makes things easier not having to do as much shift work that some of the other specialities demand. It’s nice sitting down as a family for dinner each night,” she smiles.

A focus on remediation

This is Tiffany’s first year with GPTQ as an Assistant Medical Educator for the Darling Downs and West Moreton district.

“I started doing some medical education work in 2018 with first year medical students at The University of Queensland. I moved into this area as general practice sometimes gets a bit of a bad name in the media, and I wanted to give future generations of GPs a more accurate insight into what general practice actually is and can be,” she explains.

As Tiffany went through her own GP training, she says she had some fantastic medical educators, including Kate Wallis, who she now works with. She says their enthusiasm about general practice was infectious, propelling her to take on the same role for current GPTQ Registrars.

“I find there’s a big parallel between being a general practitioner and medical educator, especially on the remediation side of things. You feel like you’re a bit of a diagnostician when trying to figure out why certain things have happened to particular Registrars, and I really enjoy this aspect,” she says.

Career and exam guidance

One of the things Tiffany enjoys most about being a GP is the chance to manage ‘a myriad of different conditions’. And when it comes to studying for GP exams, this is precisely what she advises Registrars to do.

“Seeing as many different presentations as you can will put you in good stead for the future, particularly in the lead up to exams. Even if you want to narrow your practise down to a niche area, starting off as general and diverse as possible is the best approach for your long-term career,” she says.

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