Ask 10 GPs what they enjoy most about their job and it’s highly likely 9 out of 10 will come back with a version of, “I love that I get to do a bit of everything.” It’s certainly no surprise practising a wide variety of medicine is one of the speciality’s biggest drawcards, along with the chance to pursue a special interest.
Here you’ll uncover part one in a series of stories featuring registrars and GPs who work in wide ranging fields. It will give you an excellent taster of the diversity on offer when you choose to become a GP.
Dr Gillian Eastgate
GPTQ Medical Educator
Addiction medicine or disability support
Dr Gillian Eastgate currently practises five days per fortnight at Inala Community Health Centre in their Alcohol and Drug Service.
“I have a second fellowship in addiction medicine. Much of what I do is ongoing management of opioid dependent patients. The care is similar to what I’d give in standard general practice, but the main difference is I’m focusing on their addiction issues,” she explains.
“They’re very interesting patients because they have a whole range of medical and psychiatric issues, and we have to do a lot of liaison with our local GPs when it comes to their care.”
Gillian also spent 16 years working at the Queensland Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disability at The University of Queensland.
“My role was to provide in-depth health assessments for adults with an intellectual disability. I wasn’t seeing them for their acute complaints; they would visit their regular GP for those. I’d instead see them for a series of hour long appointments, and basically pull apart all of their health conditions and health care, and make recommendations to their usual GP. Practising there, I got to experience a huge range of medical issues,” she says.
GP Registrar, Australian Defence Force
Australian Defence Force
GP registrar and uniformed member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Dr Doug Brown, splits his consulting time between civilian and military medicine. Stationed at the Amberley RAAF, he also balances practising at a Brisbane GP clinic, with his ADF military and medical training commitments in numerous locations across the nation.
Doug says there are stark differences when practising medicine in the community and in the air force, particularly when it comes to the types of patient presentations.
“Your body completely changes when you’re 20,000 feet in the air. You have increased G-forces that can affect how your heart and lungs work. Pilots or air crew often experience hypoxia, but they also breathe in smoke and fumes while in the aircraft. It’s much colder at high altitude, so there’s medical conditions associated with that, plus the aircraft is very noisy, so they have issues with their ears as well,” he explains.
“You also have an additional layer to consider around whether someone’s fit to fly. It requires a different thought process, as medications you can have on the ground might not work when you’re flying in the air.”
Dr Demitri Perera
Indigenous health at an Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS)
Recently Fellowed registrar, Dr Demitri Perera currently works full-time at an Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) in Toowoomba. He finds the main difference from working in a mainstream GP clinic is that it often takes longer to establish rapport and take the patient’s history, which may not be straightforward. This is where working in an AMS is advantageous.
“We have a 20 minute standard consult time to account for the complexity. It also helps being a service tailored specifically for the Aboriginal population in the Toowoomba region. People automatically feel a little more at ease when they come in,” he says.
“We’re trying to address the gap by providing culturally sensitive care focused on building rapport and trust in the doctor-patient relationship. Through this, we can raise health literacy and health outcomes for a whole population. It’s such an important field and I’m so happy I can be a part of it.”
Next week – locum work, managing your own practice and more
That concludes the first part of the two–article series about the diverse ways you can take your GP career. Look out for next week’s blog for the final instalment.