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Dr Michael Bonning

Flexibility gives me the opportunity to pursue multiple interests

Dr Michael Bonning
When I started out at medical school it wasn't very clear what clinical pathway I would walk down.

During training I had a number of great mentors and they showed how challenging, rewarding and complex primary care can be. I like that I can shape my practice into just about whatever interests me academically and clinically.

I have managed to link my work as a GP to advocacy, doctors' health and to find a great clinical passion for the improvement in healthcare outcomes for at-risk populations.  My defining interest is improving the integration between tertiary and primary care and I will start a PhD in this area next year.

The clear highlight of my training has been working in Aboriginal health at the Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Service in south west Sydney. There I have been fortunate to train with Dr Tim Senior and Tallulah Lett as well as a broad group of Aboriginal health care workers. With their guidance and the wonderful community in Airds, I have come to understand the breadth of the role a GP can have in people's lives. Working to not only be a good clinician but a good part of the community has brought satisfaction I have not found elsewhere.

The flexibility of my working life has meant that I have been able to pursue advocacy roles with beyondblue and other medical organisations as well as starting my own boutique healthcare consulting firm, Cor Mentes. Flexibility gives me the opportunity to pursue multiple interests and hobbies while still being able to commit to a patient population.

I am also a medical officer in the Royal Australian Navy and have faced the challenges of an ever-changing working environment. I have recently deployed for border protection operations; to search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370; to work with 22 other nations as part of international exercises in Hawaii and deployment to the Middle East to undertake counter-piracy and counter-narcotics operations on behalf of NATO and the Combined Maritime Forces. All this occurred in the space of two years and the time away from home and the challenges of medical care in the deployed environment have been huge. These challenges have helped me to build a degree of self-reliance that has been useful in other situations.

One piece of advice I have for patients is to have a GP, even if you don't see them very often. Shop around and find someone you are comfortable with and stay with them. GPs like having patients that they know and patients like having GPs that they know. It makes for better management and when you need your GP you know what you are going to get. The value of a long-term relationship cannot be overstated.