GP of the Year

Paul Hayes

25/10/2017 12:00:00 AM

South Australian GP Dr Amanda Bethell wasn’t expecting to learn she had been named the RACGP’s 2017 GP of the Year.

Dr Amanda Bethell, winner of the RACGP's 2017 GP of the Year Award
Dr Amanda Bethell, winner of the RACGP's 2017 GP of the Year Award

‘I didn’t know I’d been nominated,’ she told Good Practice.

The news, however, was certainly not unwelcome.

‘It’s pretty exciting.’

As an experienced rural GP, Dr Bethell’s initial thoughts about taking up a life in medicine were shaped (rather appropriately, as it turned out) by what she saw in television.

‘My only knowledge of medicine was from watching TV shows A Country Practice and The Flying Doctors. As far as I was concerned, that was medicine,’ she said.

Dr Bethell now practises in the rural South Australian town of Port Augusta, about 320 km north of Adelaide with a population of close to 14,200 people. She is very comfortable in this type of setting and is drawn to the nature of healthcare delivery it affords.

‘I really love the diversity. I like that in general practice you get to meet the whole breadth of humanity – different cultures, different ages, a whole bunch of different health problems,’ she said.

‘I love the intellectual challenge of seeing undifferentiated problems; if you are a sub-specialist you already know what a problem is when it comes to you. I love, in rural general practice, the ability to do both the clinical work and the hospital work.

‘Since moving back to Port Augusta in the last six years … I have to use so many different skills that there wasn’t a call for in [my time in] the city because people were going to different places for different things.’

Dr Bethell also loves to express this love of rural healthcare when she is teaching medical students and general practice registrars.

‘I spend my whole time telling them that rural general practice is the only way to go,’ she said. ‘I like the role of a mentor; I learn from the registrars as well as they learn from me and, I hope, the medical students.

‘A lot of the time my medical students are at a stage where they have got all of their [academic] knowledge, so you are seeing them start to apply that and actually think about how they would manage a situation, and helping them with their practical skills.

‘So being able to, for example, take somebody from not being able to take bloods to being able to put a drip in really well.

‘That kind of thing is very satisfying.’



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