RACGP 2019 award winners

newsGP writers

24/10/2019 5:34:15 PM

The college honoured the year’s best, including the winner of its highest accolade, the Rose–Hunt award.

Award winners
Clockwise from top left: Dr Kate Davey, Dr Mark Miller (centre), Dr Pallavi Prathivadi, Dr David Lam, Dr Raphael Torome, Dr Peter Walsh.

The annual RACGP awards are designed to ‘recognise outstanding achievements and exceptional individuals for their contribution to general practice’.
Rose–Hunt Award
For South Australia’s Dr Mark Miller, being named recipient of the RACGP’s highest accolade for 2019 was an unexpected honour.
‘I am very humbled to be bestowed the Rose–Hunt award. Many individuals I hold in high esteem for their contribution to our college, both living and deceased, appear on this list,’ he told newsGP.
‘Many times before I have said it is possible to go through our careers as general practitioners “one consult and one patient at a time”, but I do think we all have a broader role to play. For me personally, the RACGP has been the vehicle to provide that broader role.’
A rural GP in the South Australian coastal town of Goolwa, which is about 100 km south of Adelaide and has a population of around 7000, Dr Miller and his family are embedded in the local community. He has done significant work with international medical graduates (IMGs), providing mentoring and tuition.
‘I enjoy being a member of the community in which I work. Even though we see patients for relatively short periods of time, a career of 28 years enables me to have a great deal of knowledge and insight into many of my patients,’ he said.
‘I once was attending a funeral at the local cemetery. Looking around at all of the headstones made me feel like I was a bit of a failure, as many of them were my patients or patients of the practice.
‘Of course, that is a somewhat arrogant and dangerous thought; however, looking at the names, I can remember their faces, their likes and dislikes, their families, their stories. 
‘It had never really occurred to me as their GP that I might be a significant person keeping their memory alive along with their families through time.’
GP of the Year
Dr David Lam did not originally want to be a doctor.
‘Initially, I wanted to study jazz at the Elder Conservatorium of Music,’ he told newsGP. ‘Fortunately, a career in general practice has allowed me to pursue both music and medicine professionally.’
Dr Lam, another rural GP from South Australia, was humbled by being named the RACGP’s 2019 GP of the Year because ‘there is still so much for me to learn’.
‘I am honoured to be commended by the rural community that I serve in Port Lincoln,’ he said.
‘As a Chinese Australian, it is my passion to make sure that all Australians receive the same treatment and standard of healthcare regardless of age, gender, race or postcode.
‘As a GP … I love ensuring that young people in a rural area have just as many opportunities to grow up safe and healthy as those living anywhere else in Australia.’
General Practice Supervisor of the Year
One thing you notice immediately about Dr Raphael Torome is his modesty.
The South Australian GP is the RACGP’s 2019 General Practice Supervisor of the Year. But when you ask him whether he feels proud, he demurs.
‘I’m the face of a lot of other people behind [this award]. My colleagues and staff do the majority of the work, and my practice manager. I’m only a small cog in the wheel,’ he told newsGP.
‘It just happens that I’m receiving the award.’
Dr Torome began his career working in Kenya, Somalia and South Africa. For almost 20 years now, he has been a stalwart GP in Barmera, a small town in the Riverlands on the Murray River.
‘The long-time patients become part of you. You know them very well, their history,’ he said.
‘That’s really different to all the other specialties; the fact you know the people you see really well. I like that, and the diversity of general practice.’
General Practice Registrar of the Year
Being named RACGP Registrar of the Year has been an enormous boost to Dr Pallavi Prathivadi’s professional confidence, a confirmation she has made the right career decision.
‘This award has really done so much for my self-confidence, reassuring me I’m doing okay in my career and maintaining this stressful balance,’ she told newsGP.
It is also a strong indicator that the five years Dr Prathvadi took to decide on her specialty has paid off.
‘As a medical student, I intended to go into paediatrics,’ she said. ‘Then, as an intern, I did a vascular surgery rotation that I loved so much I thought I’d go into surgery. But after doing my time as a surgical resident in a big city hospital, I realised I didn’t want that life.’
Dr Prathvadi also considered obstetrics and gynaecology, and combining an interest in opioid prescribing with a speciality before she had a ‘light bulb’ moment.
‘Eventually I realised that if I was thinking about so many different specialties, perhaps I was actually a generalist,’ she said. ‘I finally got my act together and became a specialist GP, and have never been happier.’
Brian Williams Award
This award acknowledges practitioners whose guidance and support enables rural GPs to ‘safely dedicate themselves to their patients, their families and their communities’.
In the case of 2019 recipient Dr Kate Davey, the award came as quite a surprise.
‘I had never really thought that I was doing anything particularly special or, in fact, different to what other GPs were doing around the country,’ she told newsGP.
A rural GP in north-east Victoria for more than three decades, Dr Davey has been commended for her dedication, mentorship and support, and has held many leadership roles in organisations providing medical education in the state.
‘I have had an incredibly rewarding general practice career. I love the diversity of what each day brings and, because of my fortunate experience of working in one practice for a very long time, I feel connected to my community in a way that I feel is very special,’ she said.
‘I chose rural general practice because I believed that the breadth of skills I would need to develop and the responsibility for patient care that I could undertake would fit well with what I anticipated would be an effective doctor.’
Standing Strong Together Award
This award honours a member of the college or an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person who has contributed to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Dr Peter Walsh finds the variety and complexity of working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health especially rewarding.
‘The resilience I witness every day is inspiring, sometimes perplexing – how some people go on and achieve the amazing things they do despite the past experiences they carry is remarkable, and I feel privileged to be part of these journeys,’ he told newsGP.
‘I feel honoured to be trusted by so many people from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to be their GP.
‘Earning the trust of the community requires real commitment, but with this trust comes a level of engagement, frankness, openness and honesty that some people have never had before with a doctor and then we get to do great work together on their health and broader wellbeing. This is incredibly rewarding.’
General practice was always on Dr Walsh’s radar and, after a considering other careers, he now works as a GP at First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing – an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health service in Melbourne.
‘This award is really touching recognition of the work of the whole team at First Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing,’ he said.
‘We have all worked extremely hard over the last year to establish a culturally safe and trauma-informed environment that has been embraced by hundreds of patients and is rapidly growing.’
The RACGP General Practice of the Year Award will be awarded at the RACGP’s 2020 Practice Owners National Conference, being held in Brisbane in May.
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Dr Kenan K. Wanguhu   24/10/2019 10:42:47 PM

Amazing GPs and all so derserving! Congratulations