When the big picture comes into focus

Morgan Liotta

25/03/2019 10:42:12 AM

For Dr Karina Lim, being in general practice is like figuring out a puzzle.

Dr Karina Lim
Dr Karina Lim was always drawn to the ever-changing nature of general practice.

You start out with just a small section and need to search for many other pieces before you can start to put it all together and see the bigger picture.
Unlike a traditional puzzle, however, being a GP means sometimes you can often come across a piece that doesn’t quite fit anywhere, forcing you to reshuffle everything and start again. And other times the key piece of the puzzle is nowhere to be found.
Yet despite the seemingly Sisyphean nature of trying to complete an ever-changing puzzle with random missing pieces, Dr Karina Lim wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, it’s what drew her into general practice in the first place.
‘It’s ideal for a doctor prone to boredom [when] doing the same thing day in and day out,’ Dr Lim told newsGP.
‘[While training] I enjoyed all my rotations, but was always glad to be moving onto another one. I was halfway through my RMO1 when I realised that general practice was the only specialty that would let me continue to “bounce around”.’
It’s hardly surprising then that Dr Lim found her way into primary care.
As the child of two family doctors who started their own practice in the 1970s, Dr Lim spent her teenage years filling in as a receptionist at the clinic during school holidays. And while she was admittedly resentful at having to work in the family business, Dr Lim can now appreciate how much it influenced her decision to follow in her parents’ footsteps.
‘I saw firsthand the varied aspects of general practice, the trust that patients had in my parents as doctors, and the commitment my parents had to helping the community,’ she said.
‘We have the privilege to be trusted confidantes and advisors. Not just about medical problems, but also about life problems. We get to go on that emotional journey with our patients and, no matter the outcome, we know that we have made a difference, even if all we have done is offer support.’
Dr Lim find general practice unique in that it is the only specialty that allows doctors to manage a wide range of illnesses, see patients from all walks of life, and develop a doctor–patient relationship from birth to death, in sickness and in health.
As such, she believes being a GP requires more than textbook knowledge or clinical experience – it needs a certain intuition that can only be developed from life outside the four walls of a consulting room.
‘It’s not just the medical facts that make up the pieces to the puzzle, but the hidden cues, body language or what is not said that can be that missing piece,’ Dr Lim said.
‘While clinical knowledge is a fundamental requirement, it’s our experiences as doctors – but also as people – that help shape us into better GPs. It is these life experiences that provide us with a better understanding of what others might be going through.
‘The knowledge I have gained as a friend, mentor, partner, parent, and daughter have become essential elements of who I am as a doctor and how I care for my patients.’

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