Dr Terence Heng - Committed to offering comprehensive services to his community.

Dr Terence Heng, 2019 Metropolitan Supervisor of the Year and EVGPT Medical Educator

Dr Terence Heng has been involved in registrar training for many years. Sharing his experience with registrars and watching them grow into competent caring independent practitioners has been the most fulfilling part.

“My initial interest was in pursuing a career in spine surgery but the temptation of what GP had to offer was too hard to resist. It allowed me to use all the skills I had gained studying medicine to develop long therapeutic relationships with my patients. The work in a dynamic group practice allows us a collegiality that is quite unique given the broad dimension of work we are asked to cover.”

“I have had the privilege of being involved in various work groups outside of my own general practice which has certainly added various flavours to my professional career.

“Having a team of home-grown GPs who have great clinical skills allows the clinic on the whole to provide more comprehensive services to the community and work more effectively with our specialist colleagues.”

Terence owns two practices, Vermont Health Care and Nunawading Clinic. The practices have up to 20 GPs including 2-3 registrars at any one time.

“We have 3 accredited EV supervisors. The majority of our GPs were previous registrars in the practice who have chosen to stay on. We are also involved in medical student placements.”

“All the registrars have enjoyed the teaching sessions we provide here. It certainly is more than the requirement stipulated by EV. The exposure to various special interest areas like aged care, skin cancer and orthopaedics/ musculoskeletal injuries has been appreciated. We hold an online internal group forum where learning is shared and also have weekly education meetings to learn from all the GPs and visiting specialists.”

The practice also has 5 nurses, psychologist, physiotherapists, podiatrists and pathology collection sites at both practices. Extra services include nursing home visits servicing 5 RACFs, 4 supported residential services, urgent care for Eastern Football league, pre-employment screening, skin cancer diagnosis and management, and a fracture clinic in collaboration with Eastern Health.

“We do a lot of procedural work at our practices. We do skin cancer surgery including simple grafts and flaps and the usual joint and tendon injections. I also work as a surgical assistant doing 4 lists a month in areas of Spine, colorectal, General, O&G and orthopaedic surgery.”

The practices are offer registrars great support professionally in a collegiate setting.

“I’d like to think we get on well and often we have shared lunches together and stay back after work to chat about life and work.”

Terence finds the community very welcoming of registrars.

“It’s quite a cosy feel especially in our smaller clinic in Nunawading. Vermont Health Care covers the afterhours work and patients are happy to travel between the 2 clinics for the medical care. The patients are used to having GP registrars and medical students.”

As busy as Terence is, he places great value in his family and home life.

“Thankfully, I have a very supportive wife and 2 young children which provides me an amazing home to come back to after a big day.”

Dr Grant Connoley - A varied and diverse career which keeps evolving.

Dr Grant Connoley, GP and former EV Board Director

My medical career started when I graduated from the University of Melbourne. After my hospital years at the Austin Hospital and Monash Medical centre, including a diploma of obstetrics, I joined the Family Medicine Program, then run by the RACGP (the forerunner of the current general practice training scheme). I wasn’t sure I was destined for general practice, but there was an FMP rotation at Monash University Department of Family Medicine that looked interesting. Part of that rotation was at Blackburn Clinic. I stayed on at Monash for a few years, then worked as a Medical Educator at the FMP for another couple of years, but I always kept up sessions at Blackburn clinic, and I am still there after 28 years!

I think one of the benefits of general practice is the ability to become involved in related activities. Over the years I have been involved with Divisions of General Practice, then Medicare Locals. I have been a GP advisor to the Lung Health Promotion unit at the Alfred Hospital. I have been a GP Supervisor for over 20 years, and have been on the board of VMA and am now on the EVGP Training board. I have also been the medical advisor for an international amateur golf tournament for many years – unfortunately I hasn’t helped by golf!

Another benefit of general practice is the ability to change your interests over time – the scope of practice is so large, that it is helpful to have areas of particular expertise. My current interests, apart from medical education, are in allergy, asthma, diabetes and dermatology, as well as medical informatics.

People often talk about the flexibility of general practice, and that has certainly worked in my favour. Working long hours at times, but being able to change that when it suits me. I travelled around Northern Territory and WA camping for 4 months with my family when my children were in primary school, and I still had a job to come back to.

Being in a large practice with many of colleagues makes it easier to keep up with changes and share the burdens and responsibility of general practice – there is usually somebody around who can answer questions – often the ones asked by registrars that I can’t answer.

Being in the one practice for so long also has more benefits than disadvantages. Patients are generally well known and consultations are usually part of an ongoing conversation over years. You get to know patients and their families and you also get to know local services and facilities, local specialists and hospitals – so much of general practice is now about helping patients navigate the system. I don’t envy new registrars trying to learn about our health care system. Even now the NDIS, e-health record, codeine rescheduling and changes to mental health care are keeping me on my toes.

My scope of practice is also changing – I recently commented to a colleague I have gone from giving contraception advice to menopause advice, as my patients and I grow older together. I don’t remember completing a death certificate in my first few years of general practice, but now palliative care is a regular part of my practice – unfortunately it is often for patients I have known for many years.

Dr Jacqui McDonnell - Being involved in the community whilst practicing some really exciting medicine

Dr Jacqueline McDonnell, GP Supervisor and Medical Educator

My first exposure to general practice was down in Wonthaggi, and I had this amazing experience. It was like trying on a comfortable coat and I knew it was for me. I loved the variety; emergency work, in-hospital work, even the tears and smears in clinic that everybody talks about. I loved really getting to know the patients and their whole families.

I started at Korumburra Medical Centre in my second placement as a registrar and I loved the area. As I live locally, I was originally concerned about living in the same town as I was working, but I am still here years later. Korumburra is a small town, but it has this village atmosphere. You feel like you are part of the community. One of the biggest draw cards about this area is how everyone cares about each other. You can get really involved in the community, whilst practicing some really exciting medicine.

Korumburra Medical Practice also runs the local hospital so we have a pretty exciting practice where we get to do some emergency work and in-hospital medicine, as well as providing services to our patients in clinic and our local Aged Care Facilities. We also provide a youth clinic once a week for our local high schools, where we are able to engage and support our local adolescent population.

As a practice, we all work really well together. We have some really enjoyable social activities. We have regular teaching, practice meetings and education sessions. We take it in turns doing on-call, but we also work together where there is greater complexity in the patient cases. We work well together as a team as we all have different skill sets.

During my time as a registrar I really valued my supervisors and the relationship and mentorship that we had. Becoming a supervisor was a natural progression for me as I love the opportunity to teach and to be a mentor.

I also have a role with Eastern Victoria General Practice Training. I help support and educate the Rural Registrars throughout their GP training journey. So in both my EV and GP supervisor roles, I get to see the registrars come through from hospital and have their first exposure to General Practice. I see them experience the breadth and variety of medicine , help them learn what is to be a great GP and support them through their college exams. They attain their Fellowship and become practitioners in their own right and then often become rural doctors too. It’s an amazing experience to support them through this journey.

The greatest benefit of being part of general practice training is having registrars come to our practice and letting them see firsthand how amazing it is to work in a rural area. Seeing the benefits that they give to improve the health in the local community and making a difference, not just for our town, but for all of rural Victoria.