Dr Josie Guyer: Growing strong with patient connections

Morgan Liotta

8/12/2017 9:41:53 AM

Dr Josie Guyer is the inaugural winner of the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Growing Strong Award.

RACGP President Dr Bastian Siedel presented Dr Guyer with the Growing Strong Award at GP17 in October.
RACGP President Dr Bastian Siedel presented Dr Guyer with the Growing Strong Award at GP17 in October.

When discussing the kind of emotions stirred by winning the Growing Strong Award, Dr Guyer is definite in her response.
‘As the Aboriginal parent that I have, Mum has always inspired me,’ Dr Guyer told newsGP. ‘She’s had quite a tough life; things haven’t been easy for her but she’s always very encouraging.
‘Seeing how proud my mum is of me for winning this award, it just makes me feel like everything is worth it.’
The Growing Strong Award was established in 2017 to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander general practice registrars.
Winning this award is a particularly significant feat for someone who is relatively new to the world of general practice. Dr Guyer worked as a nurse for the best part of 20 years before deciding she wanted a new challenge.
Now in her second year as a general practice registrar, Dr Guyer works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients at the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation in Airds, on the outskirts of Sydney, where she strives to contribute to closing the healthcare gap.
Dr Guyer feels that developing a close connection with her patients is one of the most important steps to improve health outcomes.
‘Aboriginal people seem to have a different level of connection when you tell them that you’re Aboriginal as well,’ she said. ‘And I certainly have a different level of empathy and understanding, coming from an Aboriginal family with similar health problems that I see my patients having.
‘That’s really rewarding and I think allows me to be a better doctor.’
Dr Guyer has found that connecting on this level also helps to educate her patients on preventive health measures.
‘It does take a lot of perseverance, but I think [educating patients about] preventive health is really important and empowers them to make changes to their lifestyle,’ she said.
‘I talk to kids and parents about valuing education, because I really think that’s the only way we can make changes.’
Dr Guyer cites the people with whom she has worked during her own education as invaluable throughout her journey as a general practice registrar.
‘I’ve met doctors who have been fantastic mentors. Especially because they are quite open and honest about sharing their journey with us as registrars, and often medicine is not an easy road,’ she said.
‘It’s really good to know that sometimes it’s tough and that’s okay, you just keep persevering. That has been really encouraging.’
Dr Guyer’s determination is supported through her passion for general practice.
‘I love the diversity in general practice, and the challenges that come with chronic and complex care,’ she said. ‘Also dealing with the social determinants of health, because they obviously play a big part in the general wellbeing of people.’
Dr Guyer is grateful for having had the opportunity to attend GP17 in Sydney in October, where she was inspired by the people she met and heard speak during presentations. She was humbled to be the first recipient of the Growing Strong Award, which was presented to her by RACGP President Dr Bastian Siedel.
Dr Guyer hopes this type of honour will instil ambition in future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander general practice registrars.
‘Aboriginal [and Torres Strait Islander] people can become doctors, because I’ve done it,’ she said. ‘That’s a really powerful story to tell people.’

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Dr Janelle Trees   8/12/2017 8:45:44 PM

Congratulations on the well-earned recognition Dr Guyer. May you continue to grow from strength to strength.