GP Profile – Dr Aarielle McLaren

02 August 2022
Dr Aarielle McLaren

Dr Aarielle McLaren enjoys the sense of community, and opportunity to get to know her patients and provide them with continuity of care, that the rural setting of Wingecarribee Shire provides. Dr Mclaren and co-owner, practice manager/practice nurse Jessie Smith bought The Practice, Bundanoon two months ago.


How long have you been a GP and how long have you been practising in the Wingecarribee Shire?

This is going on my fifth year. I’ve only ever practiced in the Wingecarribee Shire as a GP.

When/why did you decide you wanted to become a GP?

I thought about becoming a GP in med school because the University of Wollongong, which I attended, had a very general practice-oriented rural health program. I’d also considered emergency medicine and paediatrics, but in my intern and residency year I wasn’t really enjoying working in the hospital. I wanted more continuity of care with patients.

I wasn’t able to go straight into general practice so I did psychiatry for a little while because I thought it would be helpful for general practice down the track. Then I moved over to general practice once I could go into the training program.

What do you love most about being a GP/what part of the job gives you the most satisfaction?

I love the fact I practice in a small rural area and I get to see the whole family. I see children, parents and often grandparents, as well. It’s really an honour to be part of somebody’s life like that, to be known as their family doctor. It is a privileged to get to know things about people, their little quirks, interesting facts about them, in a personal, intimate setting. I also like the continuity of care I can provide. Somebody comes in with a problem, you do the tests, you diagnose them, you might send them off to a specialist, but then they come back and you’re the person who continues to take care of them.

What is the most important thing you/your practice contributes to this community?

We are locals caring for locals, we aim and strive to know our patients’ demographics and their unique needs. We listen to what they need and want such as trying to provide as many services on site to save patients time and money. We also invest in being part of our local community so our patients can get to know us and we work hard to gain their trust – it makes for a more robust therapeutic relationship.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Well, I have five children, so it’s often running around after children. We have an acreage so we’re often pottering around being ‘pretend farmers’. For me, family time is really important and it was one of the reasons I was attracted to general practice. The hours are much longer than I ever expected, though, and now as an owner, it’s a lot more onerous. However, I still make sure I have that quality family time. That’s another reason I didn’t go into something like emergency medicine or surgery, I wanted to have the option of being there for the family.

Is there anything else you’d like to let your fellow primary carers know about you?

I’m really lucky I have a supportive family behind me. I have a very supportive partner whom I so thankful for – he never thinks any idea is too ambitious, he didn’t even blink when I proposed practice ownership, he always has my back. I have a wonderful extended family who are God send in helping us juggle the logistics of work and children. Having this supportive network allows me to do what I do. I’d encourage everybody to invest in that as well. Sometimes we get too lost in work, but these supports allow us to do what we do and have made sacrifices and compromises for us to do so along the way.

What do you love most about Bundanooon and the wider Wingecarribee Shire?

The people are really friendly, they want to get to know you as a person, not just as a doctor. I love the small town community (which is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse). You can walk down the street, bump into your patients, have a chat and really get to know your patients’ context.

I love that I’m not just the doctor, I’m part of the community.

What advice do you give your patients about maintaining good health?

I focus on preventative health. There’s a lot of things people can do for themselves to prevent illness. Preventative health is far more effective than doctors trying to treat a condition later down the line. There are so many preventative screening programs provided by the government now that are easily accessible and support patients maintain good health – ask your GP for advice and suggestions on how you can improve your general wellbeing both physically and mentally!

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