A career in general practice

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Thinking about becoming a GP? Dr John Buckley talks about a career in general practice, medical education, and rural medicine. Visit www.gpoptions.com.au for more about GP careers.


Hi, I’m Dr John Buckley. I’ve been a GP for 26 years. But I didn’t always know what I wanted to do. In fact, when it came to selecting my university preferences, I didn’t even list medicine in my first round of choices.

Talking to my colleagues, there are many different paths that have led them to general practice. Some were attracted to the variety of medicine, some enjoy the way you can shape your own career and others love the opportunity to become rural doctors.

For me, as a young doctor, I didn’t develop a strong interest in any one specialty. General practice was the natural outcome of my study and hospital experience in those early years. But it ended up being what I enjoy doing most.

What I love about general practice is developing long-term relationships with people and going through their life experiences with them.

I’ve practiced part-time at Albany Creek for 22 years. I’ve journeyed with some of my patients through their illnesses and into old age. I’ve been to their funerals and met their 60-year old kids who tell me how mum and dad used to always talk about me. It’s a very special job.

My peers say the same thing. You care for a woman through her pregnancy, and then you see her baby and watch as that child grows up. You have the continuity of care that is often unique to general practice. And every day is different. You never know what illness or problem is about to enter your room. It’s never boring.

This is particularly true of rural practice. It takes a special person to become a rural GP. It’s a difficult job, with big rewards. You take on a huge responsibility, where you often diagnose and treat patients in the absence of specialists. This means you have to think for yourself, and you also practice a diverse array of medicine. You might deliver a baby one day, and perform anesthetics the next. You become a fundamental part of the community, seeing patients from the cradle to the grave.

I’ve been able to carve out my own path in general practice, and I’ve found my way to medical education. Like my colleagues here at GPTQ, I wanted to further my influence beyond the patients in my clinic. I want to help create a generation of outstanding doctors, while also helping them stay enthusiastic and energised. I want us to strive for excellent health in our communities.

We want to attract Queensland’s best medical talent to choose to train with GPTQ, so we can guide and nurture you to be exceptional primary care doctors, leading Australians to good health.