Personal / Background
Dr Dan Wilson is a Registrar at Ballarat Health Services and his current term is Obstetrics & Gynaecology. We asked Dan several questions about why he chose GP as a career, which lead to Dan winning the 2019 Victorian Junior Doctor of the Year award.
What inspired you to undertake a career in medicine?
I was inspired to pursue a career in medicine by an inquisitive mind and love for connecting with people. I, fortunately, had little personal exposure with the healthcare system as a child, however the interactions I had (I’m told by my mum), were fraught with a need to steal the doctor’s stethoscope and pretend to be the doctor.
It’s a real privilege to work as a doctor as you make meaningful relationships with patients – you see people at their most vulnerable. I always believed I had a capacity to listen and hear for vulnerability, and help where I can. For me, this is being a good doctor.
What attributes are important to be a successful doctor?
Just listen. Like, really listen.
There are multiple qualities and skills that compose the good doctor; capability, competence, effective communication and leadership. But the best doctors of all listen to their patient’s needs, incorporate their motivations (with some medicine), and seek the best outcome(s) collaboratively.
You are involved in a lot of extra work-related activities. How do you balance your time across all your interests?
We all have many work-related and non-work-related interests. It’s easy to balance things when your activities are diverse and you genuinely have an interest in the things you do. I only pursue work-related activities and personal interests that bring me joy, and often just so happen to enhance my capacity as a good community member or working professional.
What advice would you give someone thinking about their career choices in medicine?
1. Remember why you wanted to become a doctor. What is it about medicine that makes you tick and turn up to work each day?
2. #GoRural: It might surprise you. You’ll enjoy a greater and broader scope of practice, be supported, and welcomed as a valuable community member. It’s also a massive career boost for many specialities.
3. Network – get to know people in the field of medicine you’re interested in.
4. Consider advocacy and research
5. What influencing factors should they consider? (Eg lifestyle, finances, career opportunities, family, breadth of practice)
When considering you career choice in medicine, there’s so much to think about it can be overwhelming at times. There’s personal interest, remuneration, family priorities, career advancement, breath and scope of practice, and so much more.
I’ve found the follow priorities important:
· Pursue a career interest that you will enjoy the boring parts of forever
· Remember that it’s okay if your career interests change (you’re allowed to not know what to do for a long time also)
· Get a mentor (or multiple)
· Be practical about training and employability. Think about the scope of practice and jobs available at the end of the tunnel.
What do you think is important for work life balance?
If you’re going to get a good and sustainable balance between work and personal life, you’ve got to switch off (even trying to when you’re on-call). Work needs to be a place of just that – work. Home needs to be a place for relaxation and spending time with people and doing things you care about.
There’s no silver bullet for the right balance, and the total number of work hours, exercise hours, relaxation hours, or hours doing anything else will vary for everyone. It’s trial and error. And it’s okay to stumble along the way.
What are you particular special interests? How do you integrate them into mainstream general practice?
I have a few particular medical interests, which include Women’s Health (Obstetrics & Gynaecology), Sexual Health and LGBTIQ+ Health, Medical Education, and Medical Leadership/Administration. All of these, of course, within a rural setting.
At present, I’m not working in General Practice, or the community setting exclusively. So sometimes it’s hard to actively keep these interests alive, but I’ve taken steps to integrate them into my future practice.
· Obs & Gynae: I’m training to work as a GP Obstetrician 3-4 days a week in a rural city. Also starting some Pregnancy Choices work for medical termination of pregnancy.
· Sexual Health & LGBTIQ+ Health: As I move more into General Practice this will occur more often. Setting up opportunities to work in Ballarat as a GP Sexual Health and Trans* Health doctor with HIV interests at a local facility.
· Medical Administration/Leadership: Pursuing further tertiary education in health care management and public, while integrating opportunities for leadership and clinical governance in registrar-level positions. I will likely also pursue RACMA training.