The Secret to Building a Strong GP Patient Base in Australia

Dr Maha Selvanathan is a General Practicioner based in a rural DWS (District of Workforce Shortage) in New South Wales, Australia. After frequently receiving messages from newly qualified GPs, worrying about how they’d fare in their new roles and asking how to build a strong client base, Dr Maha shared her advice in an interview with MedWorld.

Maha_2.jpg

Dr Maha Selvanathan grew up in Malaysia, and as a young girl, she wanted to become a doctor so that she could help people. But her father couldn’t afford the school fees so encouraged her to become a hairdresser or work in a beauty salon instead. At the age of 18 she ran to the local minister at 4 o’clock one morning and pleaded for an opportunity to be sent on a scholarship so she could eventually study medicine. Her wish was granted and she went on to study medicine in Russia, with her father working overtime and breaking into his super funds to help cover costs.

Dr Maha found it hard to be taken seriously by her mentoring doctors. It quickly became clear during her internship that Russian graduates were often badly treated; bullying and name calling happened routinely. Once, three slides into a presentation, Dr Maha’s boss told her to give up, quit medicine and get married.

Determined to practice medicine and help people, Dr Maha has overcome a range of obstacles in her path. Now practicing as a GP in Australia, she’s keen to help newly qualified doctors to become great GPs serving their communities.

Dr Maha volunteering after the Gorkha Earthquake

Dr Maha volunteering after the Gorkha Earthquake

 

Below is Dr Maha’s advice on how to build a strong GP client base in Australia:

To each and every GP starting out my advice is simple; love your job and don’t chase money.

My belief is that money will come if you are a good doctor. By good doctor I mean being a humble, simple doctor with the aim to do what GPs do best, serve their community.

My appointment books are almost fully booked, and patients always return to see me. When people ask me why, my answer is simple; I laugh with my patients. I listen to them. I take my time with them and don’t worry about them taking their time in my appointments. I don’t cut in to speed up the conversation.

My goals are simple. I own my community’s wellbeing. My typical patients are females which is great because in my area there are only a few female GPs and I feel really confident in dealing with female patients.

I work hard to push and educate my patients on the importance of having the right heath checks and screening, and make a habit of personally calling my patients to ensure their tests are up to date.

I also make sure I’m nice to and with work with my pharma reps who in turn provide me with educational materials that so I can provide written advice in different languages to patients whom English is not their first language.

My belief is that GPs need to take time to understand their community, for example there is a high rate of chlamydia where I am because it is a small community, so when it comes to buying contraceptives people feel embarrassed that someone will see them or inform their parents. I recently had a chlamydia patient who was only fourteen years old, so felt I needed to do something about this. As a result, I’m now arranging to do voluntary visits in local schools and do talks on this subject.

I also take time to make sure I’m looking after my own wellbeing too, as I’ve seen too many of my colleagues burn-out which means they simply cannot operate at the level required to give the best care to their patients. Like all doctors I’ve been there, but I make sure I never work more than six days in a row anymore and always make time to enjoy being with my husband at the weekend.

The final thing I always say to GPs looking to get work in a DWS area is this; being a GP is different from being a hospital doctor. There is a need for continuity of care, so what you do and how you interact with your patients can serve you well for many years.

 

And remember there is no better blessing than helping people and servicing your community so love what you do – you’re exceptional!

Dr Maha Selvanathan is a General Practicioner based in a rural DWS (District of Workforce Shortage) in New South Wales, Australia. After frequently receiving messages from newly qualified GPs, worrying about how they’d fare in their new roles and asking how to build a strong client base, Dr Maha shared her advice in an interview with MedWorld.

Maha_2.jpg

Dr Maha Selvanathan grew up in Malaysia, and as a young girl, she wanted to become a doctor so that she could help people. But her father couldn’t afford the school fees so encouraged her to become a hairdresser or work in a beauty salon instead. At the age of 18 she ran to the local minister at 4 o’clock one morning and pleaded for an opportunity to be sent on a scholarship so she could eventually study medicine. Her wish was granted and she went on to study medicine in Russia, with her father working overtime and breaking into his super funds to help cover costs.

Dr Maha found it hard to be taken seriously by her mentoring doctors. It quickly became clear during her internship that Russian graduates were often badly treated; bullying and name calling happened routinely. Once, three slides into a presentation, Dr Maha’s boss told her to give up, quit medicine and get married.

Determined to practice medicine and help people, Dr Maha has overcome a range of obstacles in her path. Now practicing as a GP in Australia, she’s keen to help newly qualified doctors to become great GPs serving their communities.

Dr Maha volunteering after the Gorkha Earthquake

Dr Maha volunteering after the Gorkha Earthquake

 

Below is Dr Maha’s advice on how to build a strong GP client base in Australia:

To each and every GP starting out my advice is simple; love your job and don’t chase money.

My belief is that money will come if you are a good doctor. By good doctor I mean being a humble, simple doctor with the aim to do what GPs do best, serve their community.

My appointment books are almost fully booked, and patients always return to see me. When people ask me why, my answer is simple; I laugh with my patients. I listen to them. I take my time with them and don’t worry about them taking their time in my appointments. I don’t cut in to speed up the conversation.

My goals are simple. I own my community’s wellbeing. My typical patients are females which is great because in my area there are only a few female GPs and I feel really confident in dealing with female patients.

I work hard to push and educate my patients on the importance of having the right heath checks and screening, and make a habit of personally calling my patients to ensure their tests are up to date.

I also make sure I’m nice to and with work with my pharma reps who in turn provide me with educational materials that so I can provide written advice in different languages to patients whom English is not their first language.

My belief is that GPs need to take time to understand their community, for example there is a high rate of chlamydia where I am because it is a small community, so when it comes to buying contraceptives people feel embarrassed that someone will see them or inform their parents. I recently had a chlamydia patient who was only fourteen years old, so felt I needed to do something about this. As a result, I’m now arranging to do voluntary visits in local schools and do talks on this subject.

I also take time to make sure I’m looking after my own wellbeing too, as I’ve seen too many of my colleagues burn-out which means they simply cannot operate at the level required to give the best care to their patients. Like all doctors I’ve been there, but I make sure I never work more than six days in a row anymore and always make time to enjoy being with my husband at the weekend.

The final thing I always say to GPs looking to get work in a DWS area is this; being a GP is different from being a hospital doctor. There is a need for continuity of care, so what you do and how you interact with your patients can serve you well for many years.

 

And remember there is no better blessing than helping people and servicing your community so love what you do – you’re exceptional!

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  • followed this page 2016-09-04 11:35:09 +1200
  • published this page in MedWorld Blog 2016-08-30 15:02:54 +1200