Dr Alex Main (FRACGP) entered medical school to pursue general practice, impressed by the broad skill set of GPs. However, this interest derailed in his pre-vocational years when he clicked with the surgical team. But a year into his surgical training, the excitement of surgery and acute medicine began to wear off.

For Alex, two particular experiences in the hospital system summed up why he decided to pursue a career in general practice.

“I’ll never forget one of the cardiac surgeons saying to me ‘think about what you want to do for the next 30 years. I wanted to do this when I was 25; now I’m 55 and I’m still coming into the hospital at 3am for take backs and emergency cases. It stopped being exciting a long time ago’.

“This statement still resonates with me.

“I also remember one of the senior registrars in the hospital system; he was in his mid 30s, worked very long hours, and had to constantly move around the country for his training. As a result, he had few friends, no hobbies, no partner, and no stable home. He was also terribly cynical, and I could see what I would become if I did not find a more rewarding career.”

That rewarding career was general practice.

For Alex, what makes medicine enjoyable and sustains his interest, is forging long-term relationships with patients, seeing the impact he has on his patients’ lives, and constant intellectual stimulation – all of which are offered by the GP specialty.

“The biggest single myth about general practice is that it’s ‘boring medicine – scripts, referrals, coughs and colds.’ What is crazy about this is that the opposite is true – on an average day I will see between 20-30 patients with a mixture of mental health, skin, eye, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, neurology, paediatrics, respiratory medicine, women’s health, men’s health and wound care conditions.”