Autonomy, variety and patient centred care - Why I swapped from a hospital based speciality to work with the community
These days, Dr Kim Omond’s medical journey sees her switching between the golden beaches of Glenelg and the sandstone halls of the University of Adelaide.
But before she could reach this point, it took five years of hospital shift work for her to realise that work and wellbeing were not two separate entities.
Now South Australia’s FGP Advisor, Dr Omond wants to share this realisation with other junior doctors in the hospital system so they can create their own career that offers genuine work-life balance.
“Initially, I thought I wanted to specialise in emergency medicine or intensive care, but due to the requirements of the hospital hours and training, it often demands that your life outside of medicine takes a back seat,” says Omond.
“General practice allows you more autonomy to tailor your career that best suits you because of the variety on offer. However, this isn’t to say that it doesn’t have it’s own demands or challenges.”
And with International Women’s Day this month, Omond says the presence of strong, prominent female leaders has opened the door for many and keeps her inspired.
“Fifty years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to have the career that I do. Now there’s so much opportunity within a career in medicine, especially as a GP. It’s also fantastic to have so many awesome role models to look up to like Dr Karen Price and Dr Nicole Higgins, who are excellent advocates for our profession and the generations of future GPs to come,” she said.
“General practice has a much better male to female balance compared to other medical specialties.”
For JMOs, choosing between the many specialties is a crucial crossroads in their career, and it is Dr Omond’s job to illuminate the possibilities available in the clinic.
“Because general practice is so broad, it can be hard to know what it can offer you. Not every junior doctor gets the opportunity to figure that out until they are exposed to it – this is something that’s difficult to achieve when rotations are largely limited to just the hospital system.”
Omond says holding events is a great way to create conversation and showcase the availability of the profession.
“The feedback I got last year, from both junior doctors and medical students, was that they were interested in what a GP actually does on a typical day-to-day.”
“So, for our upcoming event, we’ve assembled four GPs in different stages of their career, in different locations, with different interests, with the intention to demonstrate the variety, the autonomy, and the opportunity you can have within general practice. No two careers are the same.”
Opening a dialogue is not only useful for educating aspiring young doctors – it is a positive way to help patients navigate reluctance when talking about their health.
“Whether it’s cultural taboo or simply too personal to speak about an issue, as a doctor, it’s more about understanding why the person might be reluctant, and through understanding and talking about that, it’ll often open up the conversation,” she said.
“For example, someone might say ‘I don’t want to talk about my breast pain’, whereas what they really might mean is ‘My mum had breast cancer, and I’m concerned that could be me as well’.”
“By having respectful conversations and developing relationships, we can help create a better understanding about what the issue really is. General practitioners play such an important role in this area for patients.”