Meet our members
These profiles of some of our Council members 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.
A/Prof Ayman Shenouda
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
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 improve 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 Michael Wright
Deputy Chair, Sydney Central & Eastern
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 Jessica Tidemann
Co-opted ACT representative
What attracted you to general practice?
Jessica: The ability to do many different things from within one specialty - remain a generalist, sub-specialise, reinvent one’s self repeatedly, non-clinical work, advocacy, part time, different clinical settings.
What has been your best moment as a general practitioner?
Jessica: Hard to pick just one but supporting women through perinatal depression and anxiety is extremely humbling and rewarding. Being allowed into our patient’s lives at their most vulnerable is an immense privilege and big responsibility.
What objectives do you have as a Council member?
Jessica: To advocate for ongoing improvements to general practice through all stages of training and practice and to represent and support my colleagues, especially in the ACT.
What’s one thing no-one knows about you?
Jessica: Not sure I can come up with an answer for this one. I am candidly honest so people who know me know most things about me.
Dr Rebekah Hoffman
South-East Sydney representative
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.