02 April 2024

Melissa Gajardo’s passion for nursing led her to a career in primary care. The Campbelltown Medical Centre practice nurse is eager to contribute to improving our community’s health by empowering her patients “to make informed decisions about their health and equip them with the knowledge and resources necessary to lead healthier, happier lives”.

How long have you been a practice nurse and how long have you been working in South Western Sydney?

I am new to general practice nursing, having started just four months ago. Last year I did a three-month contract as a nurse in a correctional facility, which was my first taste of primary care. I have been a registered nurse for 12 years, mostly working in acute care in a tertiary hospital. Other than my nursing contracts out of Sydney I have always serviced the good people of South Western Sydney.

When/why did you decide to pursue a career in nursing and specifically in primary care?

I discovered my passion for service care delivery early on. After high school I pursued a Bachelor of Psychology, but quickly realised it wasn’t the right fit. It was my mother, an AIN (Assistant in Nursing) herself, who urged me to consider nursing as a career. Taking her advice, I made the transition, and it’s been a decision I’m truly grateful for.

I specialised in cardiology working in the Coronary Care Unit and the Cardiac Interventional Unit and while I loved my experiences in acute care, my passion for preventative healthcare has grown steadily over the years.

I am eager to make my contribution to addressing risk factors early and do my part in preventing hospital admissions and alleviating an already burdened health system.

Primary healthcare nursing is so multifaceted with so many intriguing opportunities.

From servicing our First Nations people in a remote area of Australia to occupational health, refugee health and early childhood services, the field is rich with possibilities.

Even within my specialty of cardiology, roles in cardiac rehabilitation and managing conditions like rheumatic heart disease in children present compelling avenues for impact.

I am currently enrolled in the immunisation accreditation program and would also like to undertake study to become a Credentialed Diabetic Nurse Educator.

I look forward to using my newly acquired skills in primary care to work in a remote care setting in the future.

Tell us about the role of nurses in primary care

The role of primary healthcare nurses is dynamic and centred around delivering personalised care with a strong emphasis on preventive measures and disease management.

On a typical day as a general practice nurse I work closely with GPs to perform a range of tasks, including wound dressings, medication education and administration, including Immunisations.

I also perform health assessments and have recently begun doing chronic disease management plans.

In my general practice the nurses assist the GPs with cervical screenings, IUD insertions, skin lesion removal and biopsies, as well as conducting diagnostic tests such as ECGs, ABIs and spirometry.

We also are involved with meticulous documentation and record keeping and actively participate in quality and safety by performing cold chain management, ordering appropriate stock and sterilising equipment.

What do you love about nursing/what do you find most fulfilling about your role?

The essence of nursing lies in the connections forged with our patients and community.

In acute care, I’ve been privileged to share pivotal moments in patients’ lives – sometimes it’s the worst day of their lives.

Witnessing their resilience in adversity has been the most rewarding aspect of my role. It’s humbling to see their strength, and it’s instilled in me a profound appreciation for the fragility of health, the preciousness of life and the inevitability of death.

Beyond the patient interactions, the camaraderie among colleagues has been equally fulfilling.

Nursing isn’t just a profession, it’s a community built on shared experiences, respect and trust.

The friendships and networks I’ve cultivated over the years have enriched my journey and I have made friends for life.

Tell me about your ideal work day…

My ideal workday involves walking into the general practice to find everything running smoothly: all routine checks completed, stocked up on supplies and technology functioning well.

I see my patients on time, ensuring I have enough time to give them the attention they need without feeling rushed.

If an unwell patient needs urgent care, I’m ready to triage and provide appropriate management.

Taking a break at a reasonable time. Having positive interactions with patients and colleagues to make the day enjoyable and productive.

Finally, leaving work on time.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I love spending time with my dog Eleven, she is a spirited Kelpie x Golden Retriever mix.

Despite her occasional quirks, I find joy in our daily walks together.

Quality time with my partner and family is equally enjoyable, whether we’re cozying up for a movie night or engaging in a not so friendly game of Catan.

Travelling is another passion of mine, and I’ve been fortunate to explore various countries.

However, there’s still so much of Australia left for me to discover.

My partner and I recently explored Tasmania over a 14-day trip and it left a lasting impression on us.

More than 40 per cent of Tasmania is protected as national parks and reserves, which offered a great opportunity to immerse ourselves in an unspoilt wilderness.

We enjoyed encounters with native wildlife, from wombats to penguins and even a platypus!

We also learnt about Tasmania’s rich convict history and thoroughly enjoyed the Port Arthur Historic Site.

Do you have any role models and why?

My role model is undoubtedly my mother, Marcelina.

Arriving in Australia in the 1980s with little more than determination, she and my father built a fulfilling life for our family from the ground up.

Her unwavering dedication shines through in every aspect of her life.

As an Assistant in Nursing, she has tirelessly cared for the elderly for over three decades, embodying compassion and professionalism.

Beyond her job, she’s been an exceptional mother, confidant and friend, always offering unwavering support and love.

Her ability to give wholeheartedly to others, coupled with her strong work ethic, serves as an enduring inspiration to me.

How do you help educate your patients about maintaining good health?

I firmly believe in the power of preventative healthcare and the adage prevention is better than cure.

My approach to educating patients about good health begins with fostering open, uninterrupted conversations where patients feel empowered to take charge of their own well-being.

I actively listen to their concerns and symptoms, encouraging them to explore resources and strategies available to them in their daily lives to address these issues.

Many patients often express regret about not prioritising their health earlier, and I strive to reassure them that they are not alone in facing challenges imposed by modern society.

By acknowledging these factors, we can work together to identify areas where they can take action and regain control over their health.

Supportive counselling is really important in these interactions as building a trusting relationship helps to foster open communication and collaboration in achieving health goals.

I emphasise the importance of simple lifestyle changes because even small adjustments can yield significant improvements in their symptoms or overall well-being.

Whether it’s making dietary modifications, incorporating regular exercise, or implementing stress-reduction techniques, I provide guidance and support tailored to each individual’s needs.

Ultimately, my goal is to empower patients to make informed decisions about their health and equip them with the knowledge and resources necessary to lead healthier, happier lives.

11 March 2024

“Being able to help people in their times of need and when things seem uncertain is a wonderful thing.”

Jason Sagredo, from Queen Street General Practice, Campbelltown, has worked as a practice nurse in South Western Sydney for six months.

With a lifelong interest in First Aid, Jason became a cadet with St John Ambulance in Year 8 of high school and was amazed by the nurses on duty: “I wanted to be able to help people the same way”.

Now caring for a variety of patients with different needs, Jason works closely with GPs to deliver quality care to our community and aims to ensure we have a health-educated population.

How long have you been a practice nurse and how long have you been working in South Western Sydney?

I graduated in 2020 and have been a practice nurse in South Western Sydney for about six months.

When/why did you decide to pursue a career in nursing and specifically in primary care?

I always had an interest in First Aid.

I became a cadet with St John Ambulance in Year 8 of high school where I met many nurses and was amazed with what they were able to do. I wanted to be able to help people the same way.

Tell us about the role of nurses in primary care

The role of a nurse in primary care is absolutely paramount.

We help people of all ages, from six weeks old to the elderly in their 90s.

We play an immense role in preventative care through health assessments, wound dressings, vaccinations for both children and adults and so much more.

We work closely with GPs to deliver quality care to entire communities and ensure we have a health-educated population.

What do you love about nursing/what do you find most fulfilling about your role?

Being able to help people in their times of need and when things seem uncertain is a wonderful thing. At a time when you feel most vulnerable, you want someone there to help you, and it’s a privilege to be able to be that person.

Tell me about your ideal work day…

On an ideal work day I’ll have a variety of patients needing different things. I find being able to use different skills to achieve optimal outcomes throughout the day makes time fly by. It always provides new opportunities to learn.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

On my time off I like to play bass, walk my dog and do some nature trails.

When I can, I also enjoy the odd camping trip. Getting away from your day-to-day life and being in nature can be the refresh you need after a good week’s work.

Do you have any role models and why?

On my placement as a student nurse, I had the privilege of working with many wonderful nurses and doctors who really took the time to teach me many things from their arsenal of knowledge.

It’s these lessons that really stayed with me and I hope to be as knowledgeable as these incredible healthcare professionals one day.

How do you help educate your patients about maintaining good health?

I am a big advocate for preventative care, and as such I always like to make sure my patients are educated on their immunisations and know what these vaccines protect against.

We also educate patients on self-administering injectable medications and safely disposing of sharps.

We take the time to get to know our patients and see if they need help in any facet of life so we can point them to the right resources – another great way we improve health literacy for our communities in South Western Sydney.

07 February 2024

Dr Fiona Mackintosh, of Highlands General Practice Moss Vale, grew up in the Highlands and worked in Sydney for almost 20 years, specialising in women’s and children’s health, before returning to the Highlands about 12 years ago.

Her journey into medicine was sparked by seeing her sister undergo a brain operation at age four and a fascination with biology and science in high school.

She loves the practice scope of being in a regional area, being able to raise her children in “a beautiful area” and having family nearby.

Dr Mackintosh also advocates for long COVID, having had long COVID since February 2022.

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

I had always been fascinated by biology and science at high school. My sister had a brain operation when she was four years old, and I loved the atmosphere of the kid’s hospital – the staff, the patients, the whole thing. 

I was very interested in doing paediatrics but I also wanted a flexible job around childcare and family. I decided to change to general practice. And it suits me; I am a generalist.

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

I love the variety. No day is ever the same. It is exciting, challenging and sometimes overwhelming, BUT never boring!

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

Living in a regional area means my practice here differs greatly from the city. We really do provide all ages and all-persons care. From pregnancy to aged care, home visits, Residential Aged Care Homes and after-hours. The GPs in my area provide an holistic and community-focused service.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have two kids, one in her last years at school. I love to read; I’m in two book clubs. My latest hobby is Tai Chi – so good for balance and relaxation. I attend a class in the park near Bradman Oval. So, refreshing on the cool Highland mornings.

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

I have had long COVID since February 2022. It has left me very fatigued. I encourage all GPs to educate themselves about long COVID, as the number of people affected will keep increasing, and it will be more and more difficult to recognise and manage. We need to remain aware and compassionate.

What do you love most about Moss Vale?

Moss Vale is a beautiful area. The main street and park especially. Great coffee shops, restaurants and gift shops. A lovely mix of people. 

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

Good health is a balance. The key is exercising, eating healthily, sleeping well, maintaining good connections with your loved ones, community, and your GP.

09 January 2024

Welcome to GP Link Lunches!

As part of its ongoing GP advocacy work, Sydney South West GP Link has developed the GP Link Lunches Q&A series. 

GP Link Chair, Dr Kenneth McCroary, has initiated a series of meetings with clinical, political and/or GP focused individuals or organisations to discuss issues facing GPs working in our region and talk about local solutions.
News: GP Link event breaks down silos in health system

 

Dr McCroary speaks with:

Dr Nhung Nguyen Nguyen, a consultant cardiologist, about her passion for working with patients to optimise their cardiovascular health and maintain wellness, and using the latest clinical evidence to provide excellent patient care.

Read the interview – 17 January 2024

 

Dr James Zhang about his work in the long COVID and post COVID general practice management space.

Read the interview – 6 December 2023

 

Xanthe Sansome, the National Program Director at Advance Care Planning Australia, about increasing the awareness and uptake of advance care planning across Australia.

Read the interview – 8 November 2023

 

Slavica Krstic, a paediatric clinical nurse specialist in weight management at South Western Sydney Local Health District, about the Growing Healthy Kids in South West Sydney project.

Read the interview – 13 September 2023

 

Professor Penny Abbott, the new Head of General Practice at Western Sydney University, about the undergraduate medical curricula and the decrease in interest from students in training as GPs.

Read the interview – 9 August 2023

 

SWSPHN program advisor, Gautami Motupally, who works primarily in our COVID team which involves program design and implementation relating to improving COVID health outcomes, with a focus on vulnerable communities.

Read the interview – 2 August 2023

 

UK medical student Rhianna Monahan. Rhianna is gaining valuable experience in general practice in Australia during a six-week term at Macarthur General Practice in Campbelltown. They spoke about her experiences so far, what medical training in the UK is like, the challenges presented by COVID-19, and the differences between practising medicine in the UK and Australia.

Read the interview – 12 July 2023

 

Southern Highlands GP, Dr Fiona Mackintosh, about her personal experience with COVID-19 infection and long COVID symptoms.

Read the interview – 21 June 2023

 

GP, Dr Mary Beth MacIsaac, about her experiences in the multiple GP roles she has performed, including her time with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Read the interview – 31 May 2023

GP Sceptics Podcast

 

GP, Dr Andrew Knight, who is a staff specialist at the South Western Sydney Primary and Integrated Care Unit, a conjoint Senior lecturer at the University of NSW and was chair of National Prescribing Services Medicine Wise – The National Prescribing Service.

Read the interview – 17 May 2023

 

Hume MP and Shadow Treasurer, Angus Taylor, about the challenges facing general practice and the health system more broadly.

Read the interview – 3 May 2023

 

Dr Antonio Di Dio, acting Director of the Professional Services Review, about the organisation.

Read the interview – 26 April 2023

 

Dr Ai-Vee Chua, GP Principal of Dubbo Family Doctors, who has been a rural GP for more than 20 years. Dr Chua is also the Senior Clinical Editor for Western NSW HealthPathways. They spoke about issues including working in a rural setting, her roles with the AMA the RACGP and NSW Health, and coping with COVID-19.

Read the interview – 12 April 2023

 

Dr Soo Wei Foo, head of the department of respiratory and sleep medicine at Campbelltown Hospital, about the growth of the department, environmental impacts on our lungs, the unique challenges of healthcare in South Western Sydney and her experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the interview – 5 April 2023

 

Katie Tunks about Griefline, which offers a variety of services to provide help-seekers with access to free grief support and resources, and how COVID-19 has impacted demand for the service.

Read the interview – 29 March 2023

 

Dr Tom Lieng about what the future holds for general practice. This interview follows up last week’s article about the closure of Dr Lieng’s Ingleburn GP clinic and the wider issues impacting the general practice workforce.

Read the interview – 22 March 2023

 

Dr McCroary has penned an article about the closure of a Macarthur practice and the wider issues impacting the general practice workforce.

Read the article – 15 March 2023

 

Rick Fitzpatrick from Fitzpatrick and Robertson Accounting Firm about payroll tax.

Read the interview – 8 March 2023

 

Jenny James, a GP VMO at the South Western Sydney Local Health District’s General Practice Drug and Alcohol Advice and Support Service. They spoke about drug and alcohol services in the region, and the support her service provides local GPs.

Read the interview – 8 February 2023

 

Karen Booth, president of the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA), about primary healthcare nursing.

Read the interview – 1 February 2023

 

Practice owner and GP, Dr Antonio Di Dio, about his role in Drs4Drs, particularly with the recent stressors and burdens which have been placed upon GPs and the primary care network across South Western Sydney. Dr Di Dio currently combines general practice with being the Medical Director of the ACT Doctors Health Service and Acting Director of the Professional Services Review.

Read the interview – 25 January 2023

 

Dr Danielle McMullen, Vice President of the Australian Medical Association and a GP in Sydney’s Inner West. Dr McMullen is the immediate past president of the AMA (NSW). She spoke to Dr McCroary about her role as a trusted voice of doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the interview – 21 December 2022

 

Rachael Williams, Clinical Nurse Consultant, about palliative care particularly in the aged and in residential aged care.

Read the interview – 14 December 2022

 

Tracy Jedrzejewski, a clinical midwifery consultant and antenatal shared care specialist, about her role and the importance of the South Western Sydney Antenatal Shared Care Program.

Read the interview – 7 December 2022

 

Paediatrician and Federal Macarthur MP, Dr Mike Freelander, about his experience with the ALP’s recent transition into government and to highlight some of the significant issues affecting GPs, general practice, primary care and the local community of South Western Sydney.

Read the interview – 30 November 2022

 

Isabella Sierra, the Physical Health Coordinator for South Western Sydney Local Health District Mental Health Services, about improving communication and relationships between the local health services and primary care in South Western Sydney.

Read the interview – 23 November 2022

 

Dr Alex Mackey, the Director of Emergency Medicine at Liverpool Hospital, about his understanding of general practice in South Western Sydney and for feedback about his experience working in a busy Emergency Department throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the interview – 9 November 2022

 

NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, while COVID-19 was still very active in our community in winter this year.

Read the interview – 2 November 2022

 

AMA President Dr Michael Bonning about his work with both the AMA and GP Synergy, in particular with the transition of general practice training moving towards the two main colleges during the next 12 months. Dr Bonning is a GP involved with the teaching of registrars and medical students in Balmain and the Deputy Chair of GP Synergy. He has a strong interest in doctors’ health and wellbeing and sees many doctors and medical students as patients.

Read the interview – 21 September 2022

 

Nurse practitioner Tony Hecimovic about his role. Tony oversees the Hospital in The Home Program for South Western Sydney Local Health District. He has been deployed to the COVID Response Team as the Clinical Lead since the beginning of the pandemic where he has provided clinical nursing support to COVID-positive patients at home, staff within the LHD and local doctors within the district.

Read the interview – 17 August 2022

 

Chair of the RACGP NSW and ACT Faculty Council, Associate Professor Charlotte Hespe for her insights and experience in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic during the past two-and-a half years, and general practice more widely.

Read the interview – 10 August 2022

 

Western Sydney GP, Dr Walid Jammal, has a strong commitment to quality and safety in healthcare as well as health system policy and reform.

Read the interview – 13 July 2022

 

Dr Louise Delaney, National Clinical Advisor in Australia for HealthPathways about develop local pathways and COVID management strategies for the rollover to primary care management of the disease.

Read the interview – 31 May 2022 

 

Dr Carmelo Aquilina, Director of Older People’s Mental Health Service at South Western Sydney Local Health District. He is also involved with the Live Well Project. The interview is about older people’s mental health.

Read the interview – 30 March 2022

 

SWSPHN Director of Planning and Performance Amy Prince about the EAP for general practice staff and their families.

Read the interview – 15 February 2022

 

Dr Ahilan Parameswaran and Dr Manoshi Weerasinghe share their insights on the increasing role of GPs in managing COVID-19. The interviews were conducted at the end of last year, just prior to the introduction of the self-management changes on 17 December 2021.

Read the interview with Dr Parameswaran – 14 January 2022

Read the interview with Dr Weerasinghe – 14 January 2022

 

SWSPHN Clinical Support Co-ordinator Kristina Allen about the New to General Practice Nursing Program.

Read the interview – 9 December 2021

 

Dr Mike Freelander, paediatrician and Federal Macarthur MP.

Read the interview – 17 November 2021

 

Dr Angelo Virgona, chair of the NSW branch of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and medical superintendent at Northside Macarthur Clinic in Campbelltown, about mental health policy.

Read the interview – 6 October 2021

 

David Simmons, Professor of Medicine at Western Sydney University Macarthur Clinical School, Head of Campbelltown Hospital Endocrinology Department and Director of the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Translation Unit, about diabetes.

Read the interview – 8 September 2021

 

Kelly Lee, a Clinical Psychologist and Operations Manager of enhanced services within Parramatta Mission, about the Continuing To Be Me (C2bMe) program which is funded by SWSPHN.

Read the interview – 18 August 2021

 

Dr Murray Wright, Chief Psychiatrist at NSW Health, about mental health issues relating to COVID-19.

Read the interview – November 2020

 

NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, about COVID-19.

Read the interview – November 2020

 

Dr Charlotte Hespe, Chair of the RACGP NSW/ACT Faculty Board and Head of General Practice and Primary Care Research at The University of Notre Dame Australia, about the RACGP.

Read the interview – September 2020

04 December 2023

Dr Pedrag Tomasevic, of Health Check Family Medical Practice, has been practicing in Liverpool since 1999. He loves the diversity of the city and his patients, and feels fortunate his practice is in the medical precinct of Liverpool and close to all allied health services as well as Liverpool Hospital.

How long have you been a GP and how long have you been practicing in the Liverpool LGA? 

Since 1999

When/why did you decide to become a GP? 

I like the variety of work in general practice. I also wanted a work life balance.

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

The wide variety of patients and varying age groups from newborns to elderly patients.

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

High quality team-based bulk billed medical care to our community.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Spend time with my family.

What do you love most about Liverpool?

It’s a dynamic place. There are a wide variety of patients and varying ethnic groups. We are located in the medical precinct of Liverpool, our clinic is very well supported with numerous radiology practices, pharmacies, medical specialists, allied health professionals and Liverpool Hospital all within walking distance of our clinic.

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

Be proactive and see your GP promptly if you have any medical concerns.

31 October 2023

Dr Vincent Roche, of Southern Medical Moss Vale, has been working in the Wingecarribee region for almost 40 years, and loves the clean air, limited traffic and active outdoor lifestyle it offers. As a country GP, he finds it “really special” when his work spans the generations – delivering babies to doing palliative care within an extended family.

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

37 years.

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

After spending two to three years working in the hospital system as Resident Medical Officer (RMO).

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

The longitudinal care a GP can give a family throughout their lives and across several generations is pretty amazing! To deliver babies and do palliative care within extended families is really special.

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

To help our patients become more health literate and take responsibility for their own health.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

What is spare time?! Just joking! Bushwalking, cycling, mountain biking, volunteering as a senior official in equestrian sport.

What do you love most about Wingecarribee?

Four clear seasons. Clean air. Not too much traffic. Small enough to know a good number (but not all) of people. Lots of National Park.

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

Take responsibility for your own health. Eat healthy stuff. Exercise most days. Do stuff for other people.

24 October 2023

“A Churchill Fellowship offers Australian citizens a life-changing opportunity to travel overseas for four to eight weeks to learn more about a topic or issue that they are passionate about.”

Dr Tim Senior (pictured above), a GP at Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation in Campbelltown, has been awarded a Churchill Fellowship to travel to and study general practice in deprived areas in the United Kingdom for two months.

He is confident the information he will bring back has the potential to improve primary care in disadvantaged Australian communities.

“The Fellowship will be highly relevant as many of the challenges and joys encountered by GPs in deprived communities in the UK are the same as those encountered in South Western Sydney,” Dr Senior said.

His trip will focus on Deep End GP networks in Scotland, Ireland and England, where GPs serve the most disadvantaged communities. GPs at the Deep End work collectively, sharing learning on projects involving advocacy, service development, research/evidence, and professional development.

“Each group has developed from the ground up in their local communities and developed different ideas I want to learn from,” Dr Senior said.

“Some groups focus on how GPs can be supported, some on advocacy about policy in working in areas of poverty, some groups are involved in GP research networks, and some have done some interesting work in specific GP registrar training for working in deprived communities.

“The GPs at the Deep End groups have the most advanced thinking and action in tackling these problems from a GP perspective, rather than a public health perspective. It’s this range of ideas and experiences that can change what we do in Australia.”

Dr Senior said he first encountered the work of the GPs at the Deep End in 2011.

“What struck me was how similar their work was to my work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Obviously, there were differences … however, much of the work was also influenced by poverty.”

Dr Senior said his career in general practice, including 18 years at Tharawal, had always involved working in low-income communities.

“I’m proud of being a GP, and very much aware of the importance of primary care – patient-centred, accessible to all, coordinated, multidisciplinary and life-long – for population health and the health of communities. GPs are experts in patient-centred care, multimorbidity, complexity, early diagnosis and in understanding local context.”

“It’s important everyone has access to this type of care, and those who need this care most and have the most to benefit, are those who can least afford to pay for it,” he said.

Dr Senior said one of the things he hoped to learn through his Fellowship was if local Deep End GP groups would be useful in Australia.

“I imagine they would provide methods of peer support, though I think they would look very different in Australia to the UK because of the interaction with rural and remote health and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Australia,” he said.

“We’ve set up a specific interest group in poverty and health at the RACGP, which may function as a national network – RACGP members can join this right now.”

Dr Senior said his Fellowship experiences would inform his work through the RACGP and at Tharawal.

“I’ll also be writing about my experiences and what I learn – and producing a report for the Churchill Trust, which will be freely available. I’m also very happy to speak to people formally and informally, to help them implement any areas they are interested in locally,” he said.

Dr Senior’s passion and drive to assist the disadvantaged comes, in no small part, from his own background.

His GP training was in Sheffield, England, working in deprived communities after the collapse of the mining and steel-working industry in the 1980s.

“I’ve been fortunate in the opportunities I’ve had, though my parents and grandparents came from Methodist Yorkshire working-class families that struggled for money – but always had a social conscience,” he said.

“I’ve been very influenced by that upbringing, feeling that I should use my skills where they are most needed.”

Dr Senior is a member of Asthma Australia’s Professional Advisory Council.

Besides his role at Tharawal, he is also a clinical senior lecturer at Western Sydney University and the Medical Advisor of the RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. He also founded the Environmental Impacts in General Practice network in the RACGP NFSI.   

03 October 2023

Due to family commitments, Kerry Feighan divides her working week between Casula Mall Medical Practice (two days) and Newcastle/Lake Macquarie. She began her career as an Assistant in Nursing before completing a Bachelor of Nursing Degree in 2000. Kerry worked across the medical spectrum but decided 15 years ago she wanted a lifestyle change which would work for her young family. She discovered primary care nursing was where she “shined and thrived”. 

How long have you been a practice nurse and how long have you been working in the Liverpool LGA? 

I’ve been a registered nurse for more than 22 years now and a practice nurse in primary healthcare for 15 years.

I work in Lake Macquarie, Newcastle and more recently in Casula (Liverpool LGA). I commenced working as an Assistance in Nursing in 1994 and decided I wanted to do more in nursing, so I completed my Bachelor of Nursing Degree at the University of Newcastle in 2000.

I did my transitional program in the private section working at Warners Bay, Lingard and Christo Road Private hospitals in Newcastle. My placements were in orthopedics, general medical/surgical nursing and oncology. I worked for about five years in orthopedic nursing at Warners Bay Private.

When/why did you decide to pursue a career in nursing and specifically in primary care? 

I was after a change and something which would work well for me and my young family at the time. I found primary care nursing is where I shine and thrive.

Tell us about the role of nurses in primary care

My role as a primary healthcare nurse in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and South Western Sydney (Casula) is enjoyable, fulfilling and rewarding. My daily tasks range from care planning, health assessments, administering immunisations to all ages, wound care, patient education and blood collection.

The role of a practice nurse is to aid and assist the GP by performing various tasks which improve the clinical outcomes for the patient. For example, care plans are tools performed by the primary health nurse whereby the GP can monitor the patients’ health more closely and refer patients to allied health professionals for care, such as dietician for education on correct nutritional intake and podiatrist for foot assessment and foot care to prevent/minimise complications and aid in better patient outcomes.

What do you love about nursing/what do you find most fulfilling about your role?

Primary health nursing is newish to me at Casula. I find myself meeting new people from many different cultures. I help them to become the healthiest they can be even though they may have significant health issues. I thoroughly enjoy working with people of all ages and find Casula Mall Medical Centre a family friendly practice.

The husband and wife GPs, Dr Sudesh Uppal and Dr Surinder Uppal, are great to work for and the practice manager, Grace, and receptionist Patsy are lovely and so dedicated to their work. I feel honoured to be part of this amazing team working together to aid in providing the optimum level of care to our patients. Furthermore, this will enhance a positive outcome for our many patients.

05 September 2023

Dr Ron Campbell, of The Oaks Medical Practice, was a community pharmacist for eight years before he switched to medicine. He initially considered specialising, but decided general practice would provide a better work/lifestyle balance as well as more varied working days.

How long have you been a GP and how long have you been practising in the Wollondilly LGA? 

I was awarded fellowship of the RACGP in 2001 and have been practising in the Wollondilly LGA for 20 years at The Oaks Medical Practice. I have also been practising at Tahmoor Medical, Allied and Alternative Therapies for eight years.

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

I decided to train in medicine after working as a community pharmacist for eight years. The decision then was to either purchase a pharmacy or take a change of career. I decided to pursue medicine with a view to possibly specialising, but general practice was also an attractive option as it offered a better work-lifestyle balance and more variety of work.

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

I enjoy the flexibility of general practice, which allows you to gain a variety of skills, and this keeps the job interesting and challenging. It is also satisfying to see families grow and develop over time, help people through their challenging health journeys and get to know the local community members.

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

Our practice provides a consistent, reliable medical service to the local community and we offer a variety of services as our doctors and nurses are skilled in many areas. Our focus is on providing general medical care with an emphasis on preventative medicine and giving patients access to the choice of both conventional medicine and alternative therapies.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

In my spare time I play cricket and golf, go fishing and boating, and enjoy listening to and playing music.

What do you love most about The Oaks?

The Oaks has retained its village charm over the 20 years I have been there, but it is also expanding with new housing estates and young families moving into the area to experience a semi-rural lifestyle. I enjoy interacting with the local community members, who have accepted our practice well and are always complimentary about the care we are providing.

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

We give our patients regular advice on preventative health and ideas to maintain good health. This advice needs to be individually tailored to the patient, depending on their motivation and health literacy. We encourage the basics such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, reducing stress, getting adequate good quality sleep, socialising with friends and family regularly, discussing your feelings with someone when you need to, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption and taking most things in moderation and keeping a positive outlook on life.

01 August 2023

Mandeep (Mandy) Dosanjh (pictured right) has been a practice nurse for just six months, but she is already dedicated to her role at Walker Street General Practice, Bowral. Her ideal day is when she can conjure a smile on the faces of her elderly and youngest patients. Mandeep was drawn to nursing after hearing stories about her great grandmother who served as a nurse in World War II.

How long have you been a practice nurse and how long have you been working in the Wingecarribee LGA? 

I have been a practice nurse for six months and have been working in nursing for almost five years.

When/why did you decide to pursue a career in nursing and specifically in primary care? 

I decided from school age, as I used to see how nurses care for people so gently. I did a Diploma of Nursing in my home country and then advanced with a Bachelor Degree at Western Sydney University.

Tell us about the role of nurses in primary care

Day-to-day: I check on the care of our regular patients and make sure they are keeping on track with their lifestyle. If changes are needed, then I encourage them; childhood vaccinations and adding reminders to the system so they don’t forget their next one; wound care, both acute and chronic; COVID-19 vaccines; BMI checks; flu vaxes.

What do you love about nursing/what do you find most fulfilling about your role?

I love everything about nursing. It starts with caring for old people when they need our care and respect. I just love taking care of their wounds and the ageing process, to help them where needed to feel more independent without them realising that’s what I’m doing.

Tell me about your ideal workday

For me each day is ideal, but I can be more fulfilled by making both my elderly patients and the little ones finish with a smile on their face. I remember one day my patient felt so good after talking about his wife whom he had lost a couple of years before. I just listened to him sharing his memories with me, without focusing on my care plan completion.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

If at work, I love cleaning and stocking up to make it easy for all. If at home, I enjoy cleaning, listening to calm music and cooking.

Do you have any role models and why?

My great grandmother was a nurse and served in World War II. I used to hear stories from my mother, it created a picture of her and I started to like nursing. I wanted to be a good nurse like her.

How do you help educate your patients about maintaining good health?

Just to keep up the physical activities as much as they can tolerate, intake of good fibre and less sugar, listen to good news instead of negative, drink more water than sugary drinks, just keep moving and stay positive as much as possible.