Dr Tim Wiles


Bridging hope and health for youth in rural Victoria

A true country boy at heart, Dr Tim Wiles’ journey to becoming a general practitioner (GP) has now led him to headspace, working to improve mental health in young people in central Victoria.

Tim currently splits his time between Goldfields Medical GP Clinic in Castlemaine, urgent care work at Castlemaine Health, and in the corridors of headspace Bendigo – all connected by Tim’s deep-rooted desire to serve rural communities.

“I was born in England but myself and my three younger siblings were raised in the serene landscapes of country southern New South Wales, in a place called Cooma,” Tim shares warmly.

“My parents, both GPs themselves, have been my guiding lights.

“Although often a juggle, they have struck a thriving work-life balance with family time and enjoying hobbies outside of work.

“I also admired the positive impact on our community they had the opportunity to make, both in and beyond their GP work.”

Having studied Medical Science at the Australian National University in Canberra, and later Medicine at the University of Melbourne, Tim’s path was illuminated by the rural clinical school placements that took him through various towns, eventually leading him to Bendigo.

“I fell in love with the community spirit here,” he reminisces. “It felt like the perfect place to grow roots and contribute meaningfully.”

But Tim’s journey hasn’t been devoid of challenges.

He found the start of GP training very difficult, with a steep learning curve entering community medicine for the first time, outside the shelter of a structured hospital hierarchy clinical team, with just himself in the room with the patient.

“Alongside this I struggled with learning referral pathways, managing time with back-to-back short consults, figuring out how to satisfy criteria for MBS billings, a fear of missing a patient diagnosis, and fulfilling training and study requirements,” he explains.

“These were all shrouded by complications of working in a pandemic, with a subtext pinch of existential dread, regarding the safety of my medical friends and family.”

Tim said he was assisted immensely by his wife, GP supervisors, parents, and colleagues in working through these challenges.

“Another challenge was failing one of my GP written exams,” he added.

“Apart from feeling a frustrating delay in progressing career and life in general, it also heaped coals onto the already incendiary impostor syndrome fire.

“However, speaking with several friends and colleagues, it is reassuring that many doctors have failed some aspect of training somewhere along the way, and continued on to be successful, clever, caring doctors.”

For Tim, the allure of general practice lies in its kaleidoscopic nature.

“Initially I was uncertain over whether GP would be the best choice for me,” he explains.

“I enjoyed many hospital rotations and had a keen interest in mental health.

“I was tossing up between GP and psychiatry training, and in the end thought GP would bring a smorgasbord of clinical variety and be a solid grounding for potential sub-specialising in the future.”

When asked about the traits essential for a GP, Tim’s response is nuanced.

“Every patient is unique, so adaptability is key,” he emphasises.

“People look for various things in a doctor-patient relationship, and patients seek out a GP who is compatible with their personality and needs.

“For me, patience, curiosity, empathy, and assertiveness form the bedrock of effective patient care.”

Reflecting on poignant patient encounters, Tim recalls a mother’s unwavering love amidst her baby’s terminal illness.

“On my paediatric rotation as a medical student, I spent time with a mother and her admitted young baby with junctional epidermolysis bullosa, who had a short prognosis,” he said.

“Watching the mum care for her baby, with the love and strength she demonstrated in the face of approaching unfathomable grief, was an honour to witness.

“It remains an honour that people trust me in sharing their stories with me, and seek my help in their health journey.”

Tim’s decision to pursue a placement at headspace Bendigo was fuelled by his passion for youth mental health.

“I had previously liked working with the hospital community mental health youth service,” he said.

“I enjoy working with young people who remain vivacious and hopeful despite sometimes dark circumstances.

“It is a joy to support and bolster that hope and do what I can to assist with questions of self-identity and growing up, while navigating physical and mental health issues.”

For registrars contemplating placements, Tim offers a resounding endorsement of headspace.

“I’ve found headspace to be wonderful workplace,” he said.

“The young people are a great bunch to work with, and the medicine is engaging, with interesting mental and physical health presentations which I haven’t encountered elsewhere.

“I also work with a multidisciplinary team of passionate colleagues who want to help young people thrive.

“There are headspace centres across the country, and I’m sure there is one nearby which would love to have enquiries from any interested registrar.”

Looking ahead, Tim envisions a future where he can provide holistic care while cherishing life’s simple pleasures.

“In 5-10 years, I hope to strike a harmonious balance between work and personal life,” he shares.

“Spending quality time with family, relishing culinary adventures, and perhaps dabbling in community theatre.”

Tim’s approach stands as an embodiment of the ethos that defines headspace Bendigo and its mission to empower youth on their journey to wellness.

Castlemaine image by Akash Dhurbarry