GP Profile – Dr Penelope Aligiannis
9th October 2018
Penelope Aligiannis from Your Doctors Plus is juggling a new practice in Padstow and an eight-month-old baby. Find out what motivates her and what she hopes to achieve long-term. Dr Aligiannis also has a secret she’d like to share!
1. How long have you been practising in Padstow and as a whole?
I’ve only been in Padstow for seven weeks. I graduated from university in 2008 and did my internship and residency at Bankstown Hospital. I also spent some time in Campbelltown, Bowral, Wattle Grove and Hammondville before settling in Menai for the past five years. That’s where I graduated as a specialist GP. I had just had a baby when an opportunity came up to open up my own practice – so I’ve now got an eight-month-old baby and a seven-week-old business. I live for a challenge!
2. When did you decide you wanted to become a GP?
When I was in primary school at Punchbowl I remember a teacher saying ‘she could be a neurosurgeon’ – and I guess it stayed in my mind – so growing up I always said I wanted to be a neurosurgeon. No one in my family is a doctor and no one from my high school went into medicine, so I took it as a challenge in high school to get into medicine. I did my Bachelor of Medicine at Newcastle University and there was a big push towards general practice at that time. The turning point was when I was doing my obstetrics and gynaecology term, which I did as an extended skills term as part of my GP training. At the time I was considering gynaecology or general practice. General practice provides a good lifestyle balance and it allows me to still do my antenatal work and gynaecology work.
3. What are your passions within your role?
I love women’s health, that’s a big focus of my work. Now I’ve got my own little eight-month-old, paediatrics also resonates with me, going from the antenatal stage to young families and just supporting them. I’m passionate about being a good doctor – I’ve always thought, if that’s my mum sitting there or my grandmother or grandfather sitting there, how would I want the doctor to treat them? On the flip side, there’s always been that business side of me. I do love the clinical work, I love that clinical opportunity but I also love the opportunity to be a business owner and to control my destiny. That’s why general practice is such a great field to go into, you can be that business owner as well as a doctor.
4. Are you striving to achieve a certain goal within your practice and/or community?
I want to make people realise that GPs are specialists, we aren’t ‘just a GP’. I want people to realise we can do a lot more than write a script or a referral or treat a cough or cold. We can offer them so many services, we offer continuity of care and care at every stage of their life. Eventually my goal is to have other doctors of different ages, genders and special interests at my practice, and allied health services to provide a multidisciplinary, holistic service with psychologists, dieticians, physiotherapists. Being of Greek background and being Greek speaking, I’d also like to support the Greek community.
5. What has been the highlight of your career?
Every day is a highlight. There’s always a triumph, there’s always something you’ve discovered or you’ve diagnosed, you’ve helped and you know you’ve influenced people in a positive way. In my business in the medical field, the highlight is obviously opening up my own business and going out on my own – that was a huge step and I’m proud of myself for doing that. In my personal life, it’s having my little family. I’ll tell you a secret … I’m actually pregnant with twins as well!
6. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Travelling. At the moment it’s impossible, but travel on a grand scale. I can’t wait to get back. I can’t wait to have all the kids immunised so I can travel. It opens up opportunities. You start to learn about different cultures and different foods and different wines. It’s so good to have that time out, away from work. I’ve travelled pretty much all over Europe, you name it, I’ve been, as well as the US and New Zealand. I am a bucket list type of person. Anything I’ve read about or seen, I want to go and see it myself. I haven’t been to the Asian countries yet, that’s coming, but being from a Greek background I tend to be attracted to going back to Europe. I always start off in Greece and branch off from there because travelling in Europe is amazing – you can be in another country in half-an-hour to 45 minutes. I can have breakfast in Greece by the water on a beautiful summer’s day and then decide to have lunch in Paris – bagels and croissants in the afternoon.
7. What do you love most about the Canterbury-Bankstown region?
It’s a very familiar area. I grew up in Bankstown, I’ve lived in Bankstown for most of my life, went to school in Bankstown, worked in Bankstown, did my internship and residency in Bankstown. It’s so multicultural. You’ve got access to so much. If you want your fancy salamis, your imported lentils, everything’s there. That’s the beautiful thing about this area.
8. Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share with us?
I am where I am and I’m happy, I wouldn’t change anything for the world. I thank God and obviously the people who have supported me through the process, mainly my family, my parents, my husband, my siblings, my grandparents. It’s been a big challenge but I’ve done it – with two kids in my belly and an eight-month-old crawling around!