Dr John Buckley

Co-opted member

Dr James Walker
After growing up in Brisbane I launched my post-graduate medical life in Central Queensland where I had regional hospital experience as well as two years as a sole doctor in a small town and 4 years as a regional city GP, culminating in a year leading an Aged Care Assessment Team.

My return to Brisbane was to undertake a role as an educator in GP training, a role I continued in various forms for 27 years. As a key part of that I was, in 1994 one of the inaugural group of Rural Coordinator MEs in the then RACGP Training Program.

I have maintained a significant role in rural training with the RACGP throughout my time in GP training. While my clinical work has been in metropolitan Brisbane for many years now the Registrars and practices and my colleagues in rural practice have kept me connected. I am grateful to them all.

Find out more about Dr John Buckley below

I work now in metropolitan Brisbane in a small, privately owned practice at Albany Creek. Having recently left my long-term GP education role I also moved to a small island just off the coast of Brisbane (Coochiemudlo Island). With a tiny geography, about 750 residents and stunning natural environment I am re-experiencing much of what I enjoyed about rural and regional life.

My passions in GP training have been:

  • rural training, reminding everyone who would listen about the additional support required
  • the patient/doctor relationship and its effectiveness in healthcare
  • training and supporting GP supervisors

My mum took me to counsellors and advisors during my last year of school as I had no idea about my future career. Somewhere in there I wanted to teach. There was no medical connections or role models in my family. I considered pharmacy so spoke with my local pharmacist, wonderful family support people in those days who told me “John, all my life I have been in this building filling prescriptions, wishing I was the doctor next door writing them. If you can do study to do that then that is what I would recommend’ Suddenly medicine was my interest with a focus on General Practice. The advice was powerful and it was not too late to change my university preferences. After two years in a regional hospital my next 2 years in a small community in the town of Mount Morgan with a small hospital and a population of about 2000 strengthened my desire for General Practice. Soon after that time I joined what was then the Family Medicine Program.

I grew up in Brisbane and applied for a Qld Government scholarship for my university years. I was fortunate to be accepted, knowing full well the purpose was to have bonded doctors to work rurally. I was only 16 at the time so had no real idea of what that would mean, but also had no fear of it.

At the end of university I elected to go to a regional hospital in Rockhampton and my scholarship bond led m to Mount Morgan.

I have had a fortunate life, falling into medicine at the last minute and then being guided into regional then rural practice, very much ‘falling on my feet’

One of my passions is the patient-doctor relationship. Rural practice allows this to be deeper and more powerful while needing to be mindful of boundaries, though not scared of interaction with people and the community outside of practice.

The collegiate support within the group of rural doctors at local state and national level is extraordinary and precious.

In Brisbane I can work at providing genuine comprehensive General Practice care. I rural practice it just comes that way.

I have ‘saved’ 2 lives in my working life as far as I am aware. One was  when a man went into VF arrest after an inferior MI while I was chatting with him in my little hospital with the defibrillator acting as a monitor. He was still talking when I noticed the VF so I asked him if he was feeling OK. He replied ”Actually I am feeling  a bit dizzy’. The defibrillator was charging as I laid him carefully back on the bed and was ready by the time I had him flat. One charge and a few seconds later he was continuing the conversation. No-one else was around – I enjoyed telling the nursing staff about it! He had no further complications. Several years later I saw his daughter in Rockhampton at the practice there – he was alive and well and sent his regards.

The second one? I was talking with a patient and said to him- what is that black mark on your arm. Once his melanoma was excised while still low risk I realised this was as much a life saved as the other one, though somewhat less dramatic.

In General Practice we have the constant capacity to help and influence people and we are not always aware of when we have been effective. To me the key is to every day strive to do our best, knowing some days we can hit that mark and some days it is harder.

With my background in GP training I am thrilled to see training coming back more into the hands of the colleges. There is threat, risk and opportunity. On the Rural Council I am particularly keen to assist the training transition, to both minimise risk and to seek genuine ways the RACGP can enhance rural training and support with more direct ‘hands on’ in the training program. A key part of this is appropriate support and advocacy for rural training practices and supervisors.

The RACGP strives to support GPs and to support and advocate for the communities we serve. Sometimes this is a delicate balance, even more so in rural areas. On the rural Council I want to hold that balance at front of my mind and  express it openly when needed, seeking the special opportunities when the needs of both groups strongly align


Contact your RACGP Rural Council

racgp.org.au/rural |  1800 636 764 |   rural@racgp.org.au