The first article in the GP variety series covered addiction medicine, disability support, Indigenous health and Australian Defence Force doctors. Here, we explore a further seven areas you might like to consider when working as a GP.
Palliative health or chronic pain management
GP Naomi Bowers loves being able to ‘focus in on the things that interest me most’; palliative health and chronic pain management.
“I did my diploma in palliative health in 2008 and worked at Ipswich Hospital in that area. I loved it,” she explains.
“For chronic pain, it was all on-the-job training. It means I see lots of chronic pain patients who are referred from other GPs who can’t get them into a chronic pain service quickly. So I can use these skills in my day to day job, which I love.”
Dr Graham Emblen, GPTQ’s Director of Education, has had a long and varied medical career but has always had a deep passion for working in refugee health. This saw him take up a post at with the World Wellness Group in Brisbane, a social enterprise set up to specifically support refugees.
“I don’t like just doing the easy stuff. I like taking on a challenge and refugee health certainly provides that,” he says.
“Refugees are settled all across the country. Be aware that you probably have some refugees in the practice in which you work. Don’t be frightened of the complexities in communication and in understanding the social context. You’ll find people with fascinating stories, you can build long-term relationships, and you can make a difference.”
Vulnerable groups including those from the LGBTQI+ community
Dr Rebecca Lock currently works at Stonewall Medical Centre in Brisbane, a clinic specifically set up for people who feel like they don’t quite fit into a mainstream general practice. In this capacity, she sees patients from highly vulnerable groups.
“We have a lot of people from the LGBTIQ+ communities, including transgender patients and patients seeking gender affirming treatment. We see many patients living with HIV, and also a large proportion of mental health patients who’ve felt stigmatised at other clinics. We have homeless patients, those struggling with IV drug use and other substance misuse issues, and those working in the sex industry. We also see recently-released prisoners, some of whom still have their ankle bracelets on,” she explains.
“We want to provide an environment where people don’t feel judged or stigmatised, or like they can’t reveal what’s actually going on for them.”
Dr Michelle Warman has always had a special interest in breast diseases, so alongside practising at her Albany Creek clinic, she also has a weekly stint at St Vincent’s Northside Breast Health Centre.
“I’m one of five breast physicians at the clinic, and we’ve all done additional training for the role. It’s an interesting field and one that dovetails nicely with general practice. I still use all of my GP skills, but have gained a significant amount of insight into radiology, particularly in understanding imaging, as well as interacting with a range of specialists involved in the management of breast cancer and other breast diseases. It’s really stimulating work,” she says.
A GP for over three decades, Dr Maura Harvey is now at a stage in her life where she wants her job to follow her passions. Working as a GP locum gives her and her husband that opportunity.
“I’m free to go work anywhere, so we cherry pick where we want to go according to family events, folk music festivals, ocean crusaders, volunteering events, as well as kayaking and bushwalking opportunities,” she smiles.
Dr Lisa Fraser says another exciting option within a GP career is to try your hand at the business side by becoming a practice owner. It gives you the opportunity to understand all facets of running a general practice clinic, along with the chance to shape the workplace culture. You can start from the ground up, or buy into an existing practice.
“Buying a practice keeps general practice in the hands of GPs, and honours the lifelong commitment of a senior GP and sometimes, generations of GPs before that,” she says.