Spirit of the game: A GP at the Commonwealth Games

Morgan Liotta

13/04/2018 4:05:20 PM

newsGP spoke to general practice registrar Dr Samuel Ibrahim about his time as a volunteer at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Dr Samuel Ibrahim has made the most of his time as a volunteer at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Dr Samuel Ibrahim has made the most of his time as a volunteer at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

‘Today was a very busy day for me; I didn’t have time to watch any games.’
Dr Samuel Ibrahim is referring to his current post as a volunteer in the medical tent at the Commonwealth Games, a busy role that encompasses two of his interests – general practice and sport.
Egyptian-born Dr Ibrahim, a general practice registrar currently undertaking his Fellowship of the RACGP (FRACGP) in Queensland, and working at Yarrabilba Health Hub, south of Brisbane, applied to be a volunteer at the Commonwealth Games and was one of the 1500 selected.
‘The first time I heard about it was last year when they were distributing some fliers,’ he told newsGP. ‘I applied straight away when they opened the process. They selected a team of 1500 health professionals.
‘A cardiologist, an anaesthetist, emergency physician, ENT [ear, nose and throat] surgeon, all of them are in our medical team. Of course, we also have GPs, paramedics, and nurses from different specialties; like mental health, paediatrics and emergency.’

Being part of a medical team in such a huge-scale production like the Commonwealth Games has been an exciting yet humbling experience for Dr Ibrahim, who is part of the first response medical team who looks after the spectators and the workforce at the games stadium.
‘It’s fun, a lot of excitement. I love sport myself,’ he said. ‘It is a once in a lifetime experience, and the atmosphere, the spirit, I can’t describe it. We are part of the community, and are giving back to it.
Dr Ibrahim feels this spirit uniting the volunteers could be compared to that of the athletes themselves – one of dedication and determination.
‘To see my colleagues hold off their private work [outside the games], they volunteer for hours, we work really long shifts,’ he said.
‘I am inspired by volunteering and learning. I believe giving is the best gift that we can give to someone. To make a difference when you change someone’s life or help someone with volunteering, it’s a little bit different from when you are doing it for [paid] work.’
Dr Ibrahim has also utilised his time at the Commonwealth Games to upskill in general practice, with common scenarios not unlike those experienced in the day-to-day practise of a GP.
‘Most of the cases that I see at the games would be part of our normal daily work in general practice,’ he explained. ‘So it [has been] easy for me because I see patients in the community, and the same at the games – it’s a community. We deal with them and know exactly what to do and whether to refer to them to the hospital.
‘But it has also been a learning process. [For example], we learn about the anti-doping medications and how we need to be aware of which medications we can give, because if we give athletes the wrong one they will not be able to participate.’
Volunteering at the Commonwealth Games has expanded Dr Ibrahim’s existing passion for general practice, through being a part of the ‘onsite community’.
‘I like general practice because it’s a patient-centred speciality. You deal with the patient as a human, with a holistic approach, not just a disease or a number. You deal with them from womb to tomb,’ he said.
And given Dr Ibrahim’s other main interest is sport, does he get a chance to be up close and personal with the athletes at the Commonwealth Games?
‘I have been where the athletes do their warm-ups, and VIPs like Cathy Freeman have said hello,’ he said. ‘I love running, it’s one of my hobbies, so I was very excited to see the athletes on the field.
‘I would be very ready to volunteer again. It’s very rewarding.’

Correction: This article was updated after incorrectly stating Dr Ibrahim was undertaking a Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP).

Commonwealth-Games volunteer-GP

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Deb Sambo   17/04/2018 6:29:48 AM

What a great ambassador you have been Sam.
Glad you enjoyed it your broad smile with the mascots shows it.
well done and thank you for your effort.