From blog to radio – reasons to speak out loud.

A few months ago, Richard Fieldhouse, Chair of the UK NASGP (National Association for Sessional GP’s) contacted me to write a blog for his newsletter about why I moved to Australia and what it was like working here.  Immediately I said “yes!”

I met Richard for the first time in July 2013 when I was chairing his session on freelance GP’s and locum chambers at the RCGP First5 conference.  But I was already a personal fan of his before meeting him.  He is a champion to any GP who chooses not work in the UK’s partnership model of general practice.  He fights for their rights and he has worked to create a huge network and connect these GP’s.  When I first started out as a freelance GP, it was a daunting time.  There are so many hurdles you encounter when you start.  How much should I charge?  What if a practice gives me work over and above what I have agreed, such as booking in extra patients?  What do I do if I am faced with a difficult clinical scenario and am unsupported in a practice?

Having someone who links you to others in a similar position and empowers freelance GP’s is a great benefit.

So… I wrote the blog for him about my experiences (available on the NASGP website) – Melbourne sunnyside up.

And what happened next was interesting.  Two months later I received a call from a BBC Radio Producer to tell me that she had read my blog and would I be interested in being interviewed on the radio?  The talk show was about unsafe GP practices, but they were keen to hear from a GP who had worked as a freelance GP in potentially unsafe practices and who had left to go abroad.  They were interested to know about the ‘brain drain’ of docs from the UK to Oz.  All subjects I knew a lot about and had many opinions on.  So straight away I said yes.

Admittedly I was very nervous.  It was years since I had been on the radio and I was terrified of coming across all wrong.  Thankfully, it all went well and smoothly.  (And even mom, dad and gran enjoyed it!)

That then got me thinking, I need a blog site of my own.  Hence the start of ‘Medicinal Cocktails’.  If you have opinions, and believe in what you do, then why not share it?  I have for years followed other people’s blogs and enjoyed reading their writings.  So I thought I needed one of my own.

When it comes to sharing opinions and speaking out loud, that is something that I have done for years.  I have always put my hand up to be in every committee and to be at the face of what is happening in my career.  I enjoy it much more that way.  Being involved in your shaping your profession rather than letting other dictate it is a fabulous feeling. In the UK I worked  for the RCGP First5 team and on the local faculty board, as well as sitting on the Local Medical Council.  More than anything, what I gained the most from being involved in these committees was to be connected to people who were intelligent and leaders in the profession.  Knowing and working with these people was such a great way to learn.  I too want to be a leader in medicine, and to do that I have to watch others who are doing the job now.

Since moving to Australia in 2013 I straight away joined the RACGP’s Women’s committee and New Fellows Committee, and I am working with the Rajakumar Movement too.  Like my experiences before, I am so glad I have taken the time to do this.  I have met fantastic GP’s in Australia, gained so much more knowledge about working here, more than I ever would have done had I not made these connections.

Each time I get more involved I enjoy my job more.  As for speaking on the radio or writing a blog… it is simply another medium to speak out loud and be part of the crowd that wants to make positive change.  It’s what leadership is about.

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“I just need a medical certificate doctor”

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I know the flu season has started because I have seen a ton of sniffles in the last couple of weeks.  A lot of patients have come to see me knowing that they don’t have a dreadful illness that needs urgent intervention.  A few people come in and say that they think they might need antibiotics, or “I didn’t want it to get any worse so I thought I’d come and see you to catch it early”.  These people take a bit more time and they’re the ones I need to educate… “You dont need antibiotics, 99% of these are viral and will get better on their own.  And sometimes your symptoms will get better before they get worse.  Go and see the friendly pharmacist next door.”  and so forth!

A lot of the time I know the diagnosis and management as we walk down the corridor before we even reach my room.  I get greeted by a tired and miserable looking punter with a red nose who is clutching their kleenex.  Easy!  When they walk into my room I want to be seen to be a good doctor so I examine them – “let’s have a look at your throat, open wide… say aahhhhhh.  Now deep breaths in and out.  And let me see what your glands are up to.”  Most of the time I don’t need to do this but I think there is a certain expectation that to look like a good doctor I should do it, and thus I go along with the charade.  (There is of course the risk of missing something rare, but that’s a story for another day).

One common feature though that all my patients have is the phrase, “And can I please get a medical certificate, doctor?  My work needs one for any time I have off”. Continue reading