Physician – General Medicine and Infectious Diseases
How did you get to where you are?
I grew up in Launceston, Tasmania and attended medical school at the University of Tasmania. I initially intended to pursue a career in regional general practice and later developed an interest in surgery. However, during an extended elective in East Africa I developed an interest in infectious diseases and medicine more broadly. I also realised my personality, skills and interests were more suited to work as a physician.
I undertook my internship at Launceston General Hospital in 2005, where I later commenced Basic Physician Training in PGY3. After completing my first year of Advanced Physician Training in General Medicine in Launceston, I moved to Cairns in early 2012. Cairns offered the opportunity to increase my exposure to tropical infectious diseases, which was comparatively limited in Tasmania! I completed my second year of ID training at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in 2014, before moving back to Cairns in 2015, initially working as a Senior Medical Registrar and Microbiology Trainee. I commenced working as a General Medicine consultant in Cairns in August 2015.
What do you like about your role?
I enjoy the diagnostic challenge of General Medicine and Infectious Diseases. I also appreciate the opportunity for longitudinal care of patients with chronic diseases. I like working as part of a team and the opportunity to be involved in teaching and training. General Medicine and Infectious Diseases consult widely across the hospital, from ED to ICU, surgery to psychiatry and obstetrics and gynaecology to paediatrics. I have appreciated the opportunities to be involved in governance and system strengthening, such as involvement with Digital Hospital and Hospital in the Home Program. Finally, General Medicine offers the option of outreach medicine to Cape York, where I see patients with a vast array of conditions and hopefully contribute to improving healthcare in these resource limited communities. I also appreciate the lifestyle opportunities offered by working as a General Physician in a beautiful location such as Cairns, with a limited commute to work and very respectable on-call and afterhours responsibilities.
What are the challenges?
The challenges of working as a physician include an increasing administrative burden and organisational expectations, such as meeting the Emergency Access Targets (also known as the ‘4-hour rule’) despite limited ability to influence outcomes. Inpatient bed pressures can also lead to temptation to discharge patients prematurely and to perform unnecessary investigations for reassurance when observation would otherwise be appropriate. Juggling multiple concurrent roles can also be a challenge, but at the same time offers variety and stimulates interest.
My wife and I have three young children. We enjoy nature, including spending time bushwalking and at the beach. My Christian faith is an integral part of my life and I am involved in various aspects of my church community. I am broadly interested in business and politics and in culture and travel, having spent around 12 months training and working in East Africa. I enjoy ‘tinkering’ – making and fixing things, problem solving and have an interest in computers and technology. I read widely and enjoy watching science fiction, action and period drama movies to unwind.
What would be some tips for a junior doctor on how to get into a training program?
– Consider your personality, passion, abilities and experience in choosing which training program to join
– Express your interest early in joining a training program to your local director of training
– Approach people you respect and wish to emulate to act as mentors
– Demonstrate a commitment to teaching
– Get involved in clinical audit/research/publishing