Meet our members
Council members profiles are here for you to put a face to a name and learn a little more about the Council member who represents you in your community.
The questions we asked our board members to respond to, included:
- What attracted you to general practice?
- What has been your best moment as a general practitioner?
- What objectives do you have as a Council member?
- What’s one thing you have learnt that you think other GPs could benefit from?
- What’s one thing no-one knows about you?
Following are their stories.
Dr Annalyse Crane – National Faculty of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Health representative
I really liked the concept of caring for families across all stages of the life cycle. I had excellent mentors during my university GP placements and I also really loved observing the skill and flexibility of my own GP.
The diversity is what truly keeps the attraction alive. As a registrar, I took a really thorough history whilst being assessed as a part of a clinical teaching visit and then examined the patient who was found to have a supraclavicular lymph node. She was then diagnosed with two kinds of synchronous cancer and I cared for her until we palliated her at home. I am still in touch with her daughter and remember every time I visited we would share produce from our gardens and recipes worth baking.
I feel that being involved in this care was a special privilege. Living and working in the Sutherland shire is amazing. Very few people leave the Shire so we often see five generations of families in our practice. Knowing the schools, the allied health professionals and local knowledge is priceless.
Communication skills and sensational customer service are essential skills in general practice. Provide a service that is above and beyond what anyone else can offer and both you and your patients will be happy. My first car was a old red VW beetle. When I grow up I’m going to get a modern day VW beetle!
Dr Ashlea Broomfield – North Coast regional representative
Experiencing general practice is what attracted me to general practice. The general practitioners (GPs) I met along my medical journey were inspiring, clever and well-grounded people. I learnt that compared to other specialities, general practice offers significant flexibility to tailor work as you like. Additionally, practicing in the community offers whole person patient centred practice with wide variability of presentations which is exciting.
Previously my time on the RACGP NSW&ACT board, I was involved in establishing the New Fellows Committee and New Fellows programs. Now being on the North Coast I look forward to strengthening relationships with PHN, LHD and other stakeholders with the RACGP.
Being a GP is such a privileged position. We learn so much about humanity and people's lives. Being a GP allows me to learn and grow from my patients.
The one thing I have learnt is to recognise when you are having a bad day, or week, or month. Change the way you practice in these times to allow more time for listening, thought and reflection. It may help to prevent mistakes during these times. I really like audiobooks and podcasts and am developing a preference for listening instead of reading as I have to read so much the rest of my day!
A/Prof Ayman Shenouda – National Rural Faculty & Murrumbidgee regional representative
My first day in general practice was fantastic. It was like a dream come true, like I had discovered myself...general practice is really exciting because you are dealing with a patient and a person. The relationship between doctors and patients is unbelievable. They are like part of the family and general practice is embedded into the heart of every Australian. Every day you get to help someone. There’s not a single day in the practice where a patient doesn’t come through the door and say ‘thank you’.
I recall one particular patient who I will never forget. She was about 50 and presented with a headache. I just had a feeling that she wasn’t her normal self and that there was something wrong. I kept trying to convince her to have a head scan. She said that although she respected me, she thought I was being a bit over the top. I finally convinced her to have a scan. Eight weeks later she came in with a shaved head and a big bunch of flowers and said: ‘Thank you for saving my life’. The scan had revealed an aneurysm and she’d been sent to Sydney straight away to be operated on. Settling and working in a big country town of only 60,000 people, Samiha (my wife) and I felt we could make a big difference to the community and it was this community that encouraged me to make the biggest move to date and set up our own practice, Glenrock Country practice.
I was determined to create a first-class practice, so I researched and visited award-winning practices all over Australia and took my time. It took 3 years to establish Glenrock Country Practice and following the mantra “patient care is the number one priority, and looking after the doctors and staff members is a close second”, the practice to date has won many awards.
We nearly settled in USA if not for the advice of my father’s friend, former UN Secretary, Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali, to try Australia. A strong Christian, I have helped build the Coptic Christian church in Wagga from 2 members to over 150 members, 35 of which are doctors.
Prof Dimity Pond – Provost
While I was in the later years of medical school, I decided that I really wanted a discipline within medicine that allowed me to get to know my patients really well and develop relationships with them. I thought that either general practice or psychiatry would do this. However, when I considered the breadth of general practice, I found that more exciting – I really enjoy the mix of mental and physical health challenges in general practice. Later I found that as a GP in the same practice for 30 years now, I have the opportunity to develop relationships with patients and families in depth – to get to know people over many years and understand them in that context as well – and I find this really satisfying.
OF course the clinical work is complemented by my work as a GP academic, and I really enjoy the teaching and research I am involved in.
There are many best moments as a general practitioner but one of them occurred quite recently and relates to the academic work. I have been interviewing carers of people with dementia to understand their difficulties. Recently I have been trying hard to understand some particularly difficult material in these interviews, as the interviewed carers struggle to understand the diagnosis of dementia. This week I attended a workshop in which GPs from Australia and France and a geriatrician from the Netherlands helped me to understand how to approach this material and of course from this, a new way to approach my patients who are in this situation. This is an example of where the world of academia and the world of clinical practice can meet very fruitfully.
I really enjoy the regional nature of my workplace. The clinical practice is in a small outer metropolitan community that has a strong sense of identity. Newcastle University, being part of a regional centre, also has a strong sense of community. Newcastle is a great place to work and the GPs in Newcastle are really fantastic in the way they get behind the university for teaching and research.
I think other GPs could all benefit from an ongoing commitment to teaching and learning. There is nothing like teaching a medicals tudent to highlight what you have forgotten! It is often helpful to have the student then look that up! More broadly, I think conferences like the College conference always offer both ideas and practical strategies than can enrich and imporve our practice, and keep our interest alive. I would like to encourage GPs to attend.
As for something no one knows about me - I do like a warm bath, a glass of red wine and a good murder mystery. Bliss!
Dr Mary Beth MacIsaac – South Eastern Sydney regional representative
As a medical student I did a placement in a rural community. When I saw the impact these rural GPs had on the health of their entire community, I knew that GP was the career for me. I've worked in many places, from rural Canada to suburban Australia, and had many fantastic experiences.
The best moment of my career was something really simple. A mum mentioned that her two little girls were playing doctor- but they were actually taking turns playing "Dr MacIsaac." I hadn't realized until that point how much we influence our patients and I have become even more mindful that our youngest patients have a positive experience at the doctor.
The best thing I've learned has been motivational interviewing- it completely changed how I help patients with chronic disease. What I love most about working in South East Sydney is my wonderful colleagues and patients. Something hardly anyone knows is that my very first job was delivering newspapers. The early mornings were good preparation for medical training.
Dr Michael Wright – Eastern Sydney regional representative
My father was a GP in Victoria and Queensland, and he showed me the positive influence that a caring GP can have on a community. He was particularly involved in Veteran’s Health (still an interest of mine) and he set me on the path towards general practice.
The daily challenge of never quite knowing what will come through the door every 15 minutes, and the privileged access we have to the intricacies of our patients’ lives create great moments.
The one thing I have learnt is the importance of valuing the work that you do as a GP – financially, professionally and personally.
My objective as a board member is to ensure there's open communication between GPs of East Sydney and the RACGP, and to help raise awareness of issues affecting our local GPs, as well as those affecting the profession as a whole.
With social media these days, I am not sure if there is something that no one knows about me.
Dr Rebekah Hoffman – Co-opted new Fellow
The attraction to general practice for me was the variety. Not knowing what I would be doing day to day, and also the ability to have variety in my out of clinical work; into research, teaching, advocacy, leadership and podcasting!
I really like the little things, when a patient has been sent in by a loved one as they think you are a lovely person, or when a child comes and sees you for a second, or third, or fourth time and they no longer scream down the waiting room, they now high five, or even give you a thank you hug when they get in.
The highlands are beautiful. I love the early morning frost on the ground as I drive in during winter, when I am very glad my office has the morning sun, and heating!
I believe in saying yes. When someone suggests you do something, join something, try something, especially when you have not heard of it before, or it is slightly outside of your comfort zone, give it a go.
What no one knows about me is that somewhere deep in my handbag, or at furthest in my car - I am always carrying my knitting. Any opportunity to have a five minute relaxing knit will be taken.
Dr Stephen Howle – New England regional representative
I was the son of a GP, grandson of a GP, and surrounded by GPs and their families all of my childhood. When I got into Medicine, it seemed that General Practice, with its great variety, was the obvious career to follow. I had a ready-made practice in my hometown to join, with four excellent, experienced GP mentors to learn from.
I don’t recall any “best moment” in my career, as each day results in great satisfaction from helping to make at least one patient’s life journey a little easier.
Delivering a healthy baby and the delight on parents’ faces was always an incredible buzz.
Tamworth is a great place to work, as there is the opportunity to develop and practice a wide range of interests and skills in a variety of areas of medicine.
There is an excellent hospital with very supportive specialist backup. There is the chance to develop a real “medical home” for our patients.
I guess I have learnt that textbook cases rarely exist in the real world, as people are so different in their personalities and their response to illness. This makes sorting through problems so interesting.
One thing very few people would know was that my wife and I took three months off to ride pushbikes 7000km across USA from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast.
Dr Tess van Duuren – NSW&ACT Censor
To be honest, I never considered that there was any different type of doctor or a different type of medicine than general practice. Mum was a GP, as were a number of her cousins. I grew up hearing about the incredible variety and complexity of general practice and expected to be a cradle-to-the-grave generalist.
Impossible to say what has been the best moment as a general practitioner. It is really all about how I felt, not what I did or what happened that makes the moment memorable. So many hugs, laughs, tears, good times, difficult times and complicated times merging into a string of memories.
Bowral is a great place to work as it’s small enough to have a village atmosphere, large enough to offer great facilities. Interesting people, beautiful gardens, and excellent schools.
The one thing I have learnt is that in order to find the solution, you have to first really understand the problem. When you think you understand, check the facts, check your blind-spots, check with the patient. Then try again.
I’m afraid of heights and have finally come to accept that I am never going to take up rock climbing as a result.