From general practice registrar to Clinical Dean: A career reflection

Morgan Liotta

23/10/2018 3:17:30 PM

Associate Professor Justin Tse reflects on how his academic post helped pave the way for a fulfilling career in medicine and academia.

Associate Professor Justin Tse believes his completion of an academic post helped to birth his love of teaching and research.
Associate Professor Justin Tse believes his completion of an academic post helped to birth his love of teaching and research.

Having begun his career in medicine as a general practice registrar, Associate Professor Justin Tse remembers the time fondly.
‘I had wonderful experiences in both rural and metro settings, and was supported by generous and amazing general practice supervisors,’ he told newsGP. ‘Our training provided a varied and comprehensive program.’
Associate Professor Tse completed his medical training at the University of Melbourne and at hospital junior posts. After taking a year off to travel, he was given the opportunity to take up an academic post in 2001 ­– an experience he feels helped shape his career.
‘The academic post was an amazing two years and propelled me into my academic career,’ Associate Professor Tse said.
‘We had an awesome cohort of motivated Melbourne University general practice academic registrars, and our research topics covered cancer, depression and health systems.
‘There were four registrars that year and all of us had a blast. Memories that are, to this day, priceless.’
Fast forward to almost 20 years later and Associate Professor Tse is a GP, Clinical Dean of St Vincent’s Clinical School, Research Fellow at Cancer Council of Victoria, and member of the Oncological Clinical Committee for the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce.
He describes his role as Dean as ‘essentially being the principal of large medical school with over 200 medical students’, ‘a leadership role’ that involves teaching, research and ensuring the future medical trainees have not only clinical skills, but professional self-frameworks to work in teams and busy health settings.
The teaching aspect of the role is one of the most enjoyable elements of Associate Professor Tse’s career.
‘The joy of the week is my teaching sessions with the medical students,’ he said. ‘I learn from them and they learn from me.

‘It is a great way to appreciate the growth of medical science [that has taken place] since I completed my training.’
Associate Professor Tse believes completion of training is an important transition point in the career of a general practice registrar.
‘This ... can provide opportunities to ensure they are fully informed about what career choices are available,’ he said.
‘The knowledge, skills and professional skills required [of GPs] are set at a high level as we move into an ever-increasingly complex health system.
‘I would encourage registrars who are considering a career in general practice to [also] have an interest in medical education or research, to ensure GPs of the future can have a voice in the delivery of healthcare and complex care requirements.’
Adding further to his busy life, Associate Professor Tse is a practising GP at a local clinic one day each week.
‘I enjoy being on the coalface and managing patients from six months old to 90 years old – my oldest patient currently,’ he said.
‘I have always enjoyed working with families and getting to know them for long periods of time.’
Associate Professor Tse also undertakes cancer research and has a thesis in prostate cancer. He recently completed an RACGP-endorsed activity on cancer survivorship.
When reflecting on to his academic post, Associate Professor Tse encourages all registrars to apply for a post should the opportunity arise.
‘Especially if you are considering medical education or research as a parallel career combined with general practice,’ he said.
‘The academic post was also a great opportunity to receive mentorship from not only the leaders in the [university] department, but by all academic members in the unit.
‘The friendships made are lifelong, and from my year we are now all leaders within our chosen career pathways.’

academic post general practice registrar general practice research medical students

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