‘Building bridges between primary care, research, and health policy’

Morgan Liotta

3/12/2021 2:25:24 PM

A recent recipient of a research scholarship and RACGP Academic Post wants to combine her skills to make a positive impact.

Dr Isabel Hanson with a patient
Dr Isabel Hanson is passionate about giving back to the community.

Demonstrating clinical excellence, leadership, and a vision to deliver a positive impact for Australia’s healthcare landscape, are the newly announced recipients of the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) and RACGP 2022 Academic Post Program.*
The AGPT training term provides registrars the opportunity to ‘develop so many skills’ by combining academia with clinical work, while having mentor support from the RACGP, universities and training providers.
Dr Isabel Hanson was a 2021 academic post registrar, and it is safe to say that the past year has been eventful for the Sydney-based GP.
After completing her AGPT training term, Dr Hanson was named the 2021 RACGP NSW&ACT GP in Training of the Year.
Not content with resting on her laurels, she was also awarded one of 18 scholarships from the General Sir John Monash Foundation − Australia’s ‘most prestigious postgraduate overseas study program’.
Dr Hanson’s 2022 scholarship will take her to the University of Oxford in the UK, where she will undertake further postgraduate study in the field of translational health sciences.
‘I am absolutely thrilled to be a General Sir John Monash scholar,’ she told newsGP
‘I am looking forward to studying … at the University of Oxford, learning from a world leader in primary care research.’
Dr Hanson wears many hats, working as a GP, primary care researcher and lecturer at the University of Sydney, and senior policy adviser at the Centre for Policy Development.
She sees her time at the University of Oxford as an opportunity to bring those experiences together to further her skills in the implementation of best-practice medical care into health policy.
‘I am passionate about building bridges between primary care, research, and health policy,’ Dr Hanson said.
‘And I know that the best outcomes for our community happen when everyone works together to achieve the same goals.’

Dr Hanson’s passion for community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health is reflected in her work at Gandangara Health Services in Greater Western Sydney, where she joined as a general practice registrar.
Since 2009, Dr Hanson has also accompanied Aboriginal communities across Greater Western Sydney through her work with Life for Koori Kids, a charity group that supports and creates opportunities for Aboriginal children and families.
It was this experience that first moved her to pursue a career in general practice.
‘My work with Life for Koori Kids inspired me to go to medical school and become a GP because I saw what a huge difference good healthcare can make in the lives of vulnerable families,’ she said.
‘I have had inspiring mentors along my [general practice] journey … who have helped me to keep the values of compassion, service, justice, and joy at the centre of primary care. 
‘I most enjoy doing developmental assessments with my younger patients, and the “ah-ha” moment on a patient’s face when they understand their illness and feel more in control of it.
‘I love being a GP, we get to make a difference in people’s lives every day.’
On return to Australia from the University of Oxford, Dr Hanson plans to link her translational health research and policy skills with her work with Aboriginal communities, to continue advocating for an equitable health system.
‘I am committed to working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health,’ she said.
‘I hope in the future to work closely with Aboriginal communities, to ask them what they need for better health, and to be part of the team who does the research and implementation to make that happen.’
For now, Dr Hanson is happy to take some down time before heading to the UK.
‘Looking back, it has been a big year,’ she said. ‘I’m grateful to the RACGP for the [GP in Training of the Year] award and to all the amazing GP mentors who have supported me across my training.
‘All GPs across Australia have worked so hard this year with COVID-19, I think everyone deserves a good nap and a foot rub.’
*The full list of 2022 Academic Post recipients and more information about the program is available on the RACGP website.
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