Date:

02 June 2017

RACGP GP spotlight: Dr Jill Benson AM.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
RACGP SA&NT Newsletter
11 May 2017

This month’s GP spotlight article highlights the diversity of roles possible for someone working in the general practice profession and the numerous ways to support the community.

Dr Jill Benson AM spreads her time between no less than six different roles. She works at Adelaide City General Practice, Doctors Health SA, Pangula Mannamurna Aboriginal Health Service in Mt Gambier, as the medical director of the Kakarrara Wilurrara Health Alliance (working in the remote Aboriginal communities of Yalata, Oak Valley and Tjuntjuntjara), and as a researcher in the discipline of general practice at the University of Adelaide. Her main role, however, is as a medical educator with GPEx, the training organisation for GPs in South Australia.

Dr Benson completed her medical studies at the University of Sydney in 1978 and after two years in Australia followed by a year working in paediatrics in the UK, she has devoted herself to general practice.

She works extensively with refugees and has recently received her PhD in refugee health. She sees refugees in her city practice, conducts some research and teaches topics related to refugees. Her other main areas of interest include medical education, public health, mental health and Aboriginal health (in which she has worked for the last 16 years). She is currently the secretary of the World Organisation of GPs (WONCA) Mental Health Working Party.

‘I love being the “first port of call” and the challenge of working out what is going on with the person who has chosen to be my patient. I like the continuity over time and generations of building up a healing relationship with people. There is never an end to what you need to learn to improve as a GP. I also really enjoy working in a team and am very blessed to have some amazing people to work with’, said Dr Benson.

First and foremost, however, Dr Benson says she ‘likes people’ and loves ‘hearing their stories and learning about the myriad of ways that people approach and deal with their lives and their illnesses’.

‘My main struggle is that I find being a doctor so exciting and being a GP so diverse that there’s always something new to learn or to do. I have difficulty saying no to things and so often find myself overloaded with things that I really don’t want to give up.’ Nevertheless, Dr Benson’s message to other GPs is to ‘lap it up … This is a great profession and the secret’s out! You can spend your 40 years of being a GP doing so many different things; meeting amazing people, learning so much, travelling the world, being there at the beginning and the end of lives, witnessing their most intimate stories and helping people along the way. There aren’t many other jobs where you can do all that.’

On behalf of RACGP SA&NT, many thanks to Dr Jill Benson for sharing her highly inspirational story with us.

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