Life after Fellowship, and beyond

Having finished GP training, Dr David Lam details what life looks like for him since becoming a GP, his future plans for general practice and beyond.

Twelve months ago I passed my Fellowship exams and was accepted as a Fellow by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

As I settled into life as a GP, I thought my life would be too quiet without the stresses of exams and training.

I can happily say that I was wrong.

General Practice is a specialty filled with opportunities to develop, learn and grow – both in and out of medicine.

General practice and beyond; what my year looked like…

Rural general practice

(Port Lincoln, Adelaide South Australia)
It is indescribably rewarding seeing and treating whole families of all ages. GPs can’t fix everything but we work together to get each patient doing most, if not all, the things they want to do in a day, despite medical conditions. I have also, on multiple occasions, been paid in fresh tuna and oysters, which is awesome.

Senior Lecturer

(Rural Clinical School, University of Adelaide)
I was very blessed to receive the University of Adelaide 2018 Best Rural Teacher Award.
This is not because I am a perfect clinician but because I acknowledge the mistakes I’ve made as well as the positive moments in my career.

I’m constantly looking at what worked well and what could have gone better. This has become my style of teaching – taking sterile textbook content and converting it into a discussion on real cases that I’ve dealt with in my career. I’ve found the key is to paint the picture – warts and all.

The best and most engaging case discussion is when things didn’t go to plan and how I and my students and registrars can avoid or deal with that kind of situation in the future.

Emergency department

(Ashford Hospital, Adelaide South Australia)
It is incredibly fascinating helping patients presenting to the emergency department – I treat patients with anything from heart attacks to strokes and broken bones to bleeding wounds.
It is a fantastic and enlightening experience working so closely with all the different specialists in a tertiary hospital.

Sports medicine

As a mega sports fan, I was extremely excited to be the doctor at some South Australian National Football League (SANFL) games this year and to be selected to be the fight doctor at Port Lincoln’s first ever official boxing tournament.

The band

(Spanish Harlem)
Soon after the release of our debut single, “My Momma Told Me”, my band, Spanish Harlem, were thrilled to be commissioned by Port Adelaide Football to play at each of their home games at Adelaide Oval during the 2018 AFL season. Stef, our new lead singer, is actually one of the nurses at the clinic.

The DJ Crew

(Lam Bros Disc Jockeying)
On the back of the success of our nightclub DJ residency in Adelaide, my DJ crew, Lam Bros DJs, has been picked up for an interstate tour for 2019, starting off with Sydney with Melbourne and Brisbane to follow.

Plans for the future

General practice doesn’t have to be about sitting in clinic all day – it allows you to follow your passions – both in and out of medicine.

Here are my plans for the future.

Medical teaching

I have been appointed the 2019 Rural Medicine Coordinator at the University of Adelaide Medical School.

After becoming Port Lincoln’s first medical student who came back as a GP registrar and then returned as a fully-fellowed rural GP, I am honoured to be able to give back to the Adelaide Rural Clinical School program.

I will continue to encourage and support bright young doctors to enjoy being the best doctors and people that they can be. Hopefully, some of them will consider rural general practice.

The music

We are playing at events and places all across Australia these days. I’m also keen to create my own music.

My goal for the next few years is to hit the recording studio and write an album of original music with which to tour.

Mental health

How did we ever expect someone with diabetes or asthma to go and religiously take their medications if they are too depressed to get out of bed or too anxious to leave the house?

As important as it is, mental health care is generally poorly resourced and badly taught amongst us doctors.

Around the same time, my girlfriend became an accredited mental health social worker, I also made it a point to undergo training (Focused Psychological Strategies) to help patients with their mental health.

Together, we have just launched our brand new rural psychotherapy clinic, “Wellness SA” in Port Lincoln, South Australia, and are excited to help a remote area in dire need of mental health care.

Rugby World Cub Tokyo 2019

My travel plans have nothing to do with general practice – they are purely part of the “keep David sane” plan.

Sports and travel are two of my favourite things so I’m already counting down to following the Wallabies to Japan in October.
It’s important for all medical professionals to maintain passions and hobbies outside to medicine – rugby is mine.

Dr David Lam, South Australia. You can also find out more about Dr David Lam’s music at