Dr James Robinson

KETTERING, TASMANIA

An important need for endocrinology in the community setting

Choosing between general practice and endocrinology turned out to be an easy decision for Dr James Robinson—he decided to combine the two.

“I’m really fascinated by the hormone system and endocrine organs and how they regulate everything in our body, including growth, development and metabolism,” Dr James Robinson says.

James can see an important need for endocrinology in a community setting.

“As an example, type one diabetics are diagnosed young and looked after as paediatric patients, and there can sometimes be a difficult transition between paediatric and adult health care.”

“As you can imagine it is quite complicated managing a chronic disease and it is important that we ensure they have appropriate support and continuity of medical care.”

As a GP registrar with a special interest in endocrinology, James aims to follow these patients throughout their life and provide consistency and support during this vulnerable period.

“With a special interest in endocrinology I hope to provide optimal care in the GP setting for endocrine conditions including diabetes, thyroid, adrenal and pituitary disorders and involve endocrinology specialists when appropriate.”

As a GP, James enjoys seeing a variety of patients in addition to those with endocrine conditions, in a rural community setting.

“You are able to help patients with multiple health challenges and see them as often as required; the autonomy is really great and you are involved in all aspects of health care.”

Currently, GPs can gain a certificate or diploma in emergency medicine, anaesthetics, or obstetrics. GPs can also undertake training in internal medicine through Advanced Rural Skills Training.

James says that training in internal medicine including endocrinology could help to improve rural health and decrease the burden on hospitals. James is completing his Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP) with Advanced Rural Skills Training in internal medicine, focusing on endocrinology as part of the Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) program on the Rural Generalist Pathway with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

“Patients may find it confusing or difficult to manage their chronic conditions. Having a GP in the community that patients can trust to coordinate their healthcare is really important.”

‘We wanted to raise our kids in the country’

Johnny Cash once sung, ‘I’ve been everywhere, man’; just like ‘The Man in Black’, James has had his fair share of travel—born in England, raised in Perth, studied in Townsville, and has recently visited the Northern Territory— but it was Tasmania which captured James’ heart.

“My wife and I wanted to raise our kids in the country, somewhere with wide open spaces so our kids could have a childhood like we had—climbing trees and playing outdoors—somewhere close to a beach but also somewhere we could find jobs and send our kids to a decent school.”

GPs with special skills are in high demand in rural areas.

“Living in remote and rural areas can result in poorer health outcomes due to isolation, distance and reduced availability of medical, allied health and specialist services. Rural GPs can really help to improve this situation through primary care,” James says.

“Patients may find it confusing or difficult to manage their chronic conditions. Having a GP in the community that patients can trust to coordinate their healthcare is really important.”

James also attended the RACGP Rural GP Summit in Alice Springs in February. Important aspects of attracting doctors to rural areas may include the availability of work for their partner, school for their children and good support networks.

“Many rural doctors return to work in the area where they were raised, so we could also focus efforts on encouraging people who live rurally to apply to attend medical school,” James says.

“Most importantly, I think it is the experience of working rural or remote, through training, employment and involvement in community projects which will attract and retain a rural GP workforce.” James and his family have found a home in Kettering; he hopes to one day open up his own GP practice in the area.