Her decision to pursue a career in medicine stems from her passion for science and a desire to make a positive impact in people’s lives; her first placement in a general practice clinic as a medical student started her thinking about a career as a GP.
After graduating from James Cook University (JCU) with her medical degree and the JCU Prize for General Practice, Dr Sornachalam completed her intern and resident medical years at the Mackay Base Hospital in Queensland in 2021 and 2022.
After a two-day RACGP orientation, she has started a 12-month placement at a practice in Mackay. It is a quick turnaround for the new GP registrar – and Dr Sornachalam is enjoying the experience.
“I am looking forward to practising holistic, preventative medicine. As a GP, you can help your patients make lifestyle modifications which can make a really positive impact to their health.”
“There is that continuity of care in general practice where you can follow-up with your patients regularly to see how they are going.”
“GPs have a great opportunity to develop rapport with patients over time to facilitate the negotiation of management plans for optimal patient outcomes, which I find very rewarding.”
Dr Sornachalam was also drawn to general practice because it provides the prospect of developing a career suited to a variety of interests.
“I have an interest in child health and have done some additional training in this field to help provide tailored medical care to the paediatric population in general practice. I also enjoy medical education, and would like to continue investing in the next generation of doctors with lectures and tutorials.”
Dr Sornachalam had the chance to provide peer-to-peer support when she was at JCU as a representative of the General Practice Student Network (GPSN), which is supported by GPRA.
“I encouraged medical students to pursue careers in regional and rural general practice by organising and promoting informative events involving general practitioners in regional areas.”
Another important factor for Dr Sornachalam was the work-life balance that general practice offers.
“I also value the flexibility in general practice to accommodate other aspects of my life, such as participating in events in the community, at church, and with family and friends.”
Dr Sornachalam was born in South Africa and moved with her family to Mackay when she was five years old. Her father and her older brother are also doctors.
While Dr Sornachalam has lived in Mackay most of her life, and she enjoys her regional lifestyle, it is still too soon for her to say if she will remain in regional Australia.
“Wherever I work as a GP I will always strive to prioritise patient-centred, holistic medical care so I can achieve the best outcome for my patients.”