Graduates find a new path to general practice

Chelsea Heaney

23/05/2024 4:49:18 PM

Wiradjuri man Dr Ryan Bulger returned to his hometown to practice medicine – he was one of 61 GPs celebrated at an ACT Fellowship ceremony.

New RACGP Fellows.
A cohort of 61 GPs at a Fellowship ceremony in Canberra this month.

Dr Ryan Bulger was a high school teacher in Sydney when he decided to change his career and pursue medicine.
The Wiradjuri man from Gundagai applied himself to his studies, passing the GAMSAT and completed his medical training at Sydney University.
‘I wanted to be a doctor when I was a kid, but sport was my passion and so I sort of came in to medicine through a different pathway,’ Dr Bulger said.
Now he is back in his hometown, where his father was born and lived at the nearby Brungle Mission, and is working in the local hospital and as a GP.
The benefits of living and working back in the place he grew up has made it a worthwhile venture, says Dr Bulger.
‘I wanted to come back this way and do rural health and be a GP and be part of the community,’ he said.
‘People are friendly, they appreciate the work you do, and I enjoy being in a small country town.’
Dr Bulger is just one of a cohort of 61 new RACGP Fellows to graduate at a Fellowship ceremony in Canberra earlier this month.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins led the ceremony and welcomed the newly fellowed GPs.
‘Fellowship of the RACGP reflects you’re ready to help your patients through any health challenge,’ she said.
‘We are the first line in preventative medicine, see the most patients with mental health challenges of any profession, and work with our patients through all stages of their lives.’
But Dr Bulger said he was not alone in his unique journey to general practice.
‘I thought it was hard for me, but some people had four kids and were single parents,’ he said.
‘Those people just got through so much adversity, so it was nice to see some of those people’s stories and the joy that they had after getting through.’
Fellowship of the RACGP (FRACGP) reflects a doctor’s qualification and expertise as a specialist GP, following around 11 years of education, training, assessment, and experience in primary care.
For Dr Bulger, who works both as a GP and in more acute care at the Gundagai Hospital, this is particularly relevant – as he has managed to find a balance between his interest in emergency medicine and general practice in a rural setting.
‘Like this morning, I had a regular patient that I see [as a GP] and then they’ve become more acutely unwell,’ he said.
‘I already know all their background, their social history and how they’re going.
‘So, when they come to the hospital, they have that continuation of care and that’s something that I think is a really good thing and makes a big difference, especially for elderly patients or Aboriginal members of the community.’
Dr Bulger said some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients choose to see him, but they have an inclusive team in Gundagai with senior colleagues experienced in Aboriginal health.
‘We are inclusive and we provide the best care that we can for our Aboriginal family and community members,’ he said.
RACGP NSW&ACT Chair Dr Rebekah Hoffman joined Dr Higgins in welcoming the new GPs.
‘Achieving Fellowship of the RACGP is an outstanding achievement that reflects years of learning and clinical practice, including building links to your community as a GP registrar,’ she said.
‘Fellowship shows our confidence these specialist GPs are ready to serve their communities independently in the broad discipline of general practice.’
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