Dr Damian Hannon

Dr Damian Hannon

Damian's story

I am a GPT4 registrar who is currently located in Moe, Gippsland. Born in Ireland, I completed my medical degree and intern and residency training in Belfast before emigrating to Australia in August 2015. I have been based regionally for most of time here working across various hospitals in NSW and Victoria, mostly in ED but I have also completed rotations in other specialities such as O&G, rehab and ICU in preparation for GP training. I am grateful for the breadth of clinical experience I gained before entering General Practice as it truly made me appreciate the importance of a family doctor in a patient’s life and the role they play in improving their lives.

I chose rural GP for a couple of reasons. I wanted to become a vocationally registered GP and as an IMG that is the pathway open to me in Australia. Even allowing for that I still would have made the decision to work rurally. I like the fact that I care for patients with more challenging needs, particularly when it comes to mental health, sexual health, women’s reproductive choices and palliative care because there are gaps in the services offered locally. Identifying the needs of the community has been absolutely pivotal in directing my training and has afforded me the opportunity to upskill and provide services to the community that all patients should be entitled to regardless of their postcode.

In Eastern Victoria we are fortunate that we have regional hospitals with specialists reasonably close by to support us in the community. The challenge for GPs regardless of where you work is to manage our patient’s appropriately in the community and really reserve the resources at those centres for the patients who really need them or we risk the entire system being overrun. As an ex-NHS employee in the UK this really concerns me.

The burden of disease in regional and rural areas is significant and we know that these areas see more preventable hospital admissions than metropolitan areas but given the challenges in recruiting and retraining a rural workforce this does not surprise me. You can be just accept this fact or as I propose view it as a unique challenge to engage in collaborative care with your patient to try and prevent those admissions to hospital and keep them healthy and happy at home.

I commenced in the AGPT program, training towards the RACGP fellowship, with Eastern Victoria GP Training (EV) in 2018 and spent my hospital year at Latrobe Regional Hospital. I completed the GPT1 - GPT3 terms in Gippsland and have been very well supported by the various practices.

I am enjoying my general practice training at EV, especially in the rural setting, and the EV team at Churchill have been super supportive and caring. My positive experience with the EV team motivated me to apply for the RLO position in 2019 so that I could be more involved with EV’s training program and support my fellow peers within the program.

In 2020 I have taken up the Registrar Medical Educator role which is done part-time alongside a part-time general practice term. This has helped fulfil my passion for medical education; work which is considered an Extended Skills Training post and counts towards my GP training time. I think that mentorship and effective medical education will go a long way in building a sustainable workforce. Whenever you take a student or a younger doctor under your wing and show them how to do something and then watch them flourish, you personally get a real degree of satisfaction from that.

Looking forward to 2021 I am hoping to complete Advanced Rural Skills Training in Palliative Care under the new Rural Generalist program. This is a decision driven by own passion but also after identifying a need in Gippsland to support the services already in place. In the long term, I would like to become a GP supervisor locally because I am firm believer that if you want to help shape the future workforce you need to be involved at a grassroots level.

On a personal note, I plan on being in Gippsland for some time, having just brought a property with my partner, which has been very exciting. As a life long metropolitan person I never envisaged living on a hobby farm, filling my weekends with composting, cows and never-ending maintenance. So in summary, I absolutely recommend rural general practice. Come work in a place where you will be welcomed and a place where you might learn something new about yourself too.

Thanks to EVGPT for providing this story.
Find out more about RACGP’s Rural Generalist program.

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