Becoming a GP wasn’t accidental, but it wasn’t planned from the beginning either. I started working in a local pathology lab. Then I went overseas, doing the same thing in West Africa. When I returned, I continued to work in laboratory science while doing a Master’s degree in nutrition. After completing that, I landed a health promotion job, but I found that difficult because it was mostly an administrative job, whereas I’m more of a doer. So I became a medical officer in the Royal Australian Navy, serving on ships, doing some border patrol and exercises in South-East Asia. I was taking care of the troops, but I also participated in a lot of their daily activities. I was more ancillary than specifically medical. In total, I spent two-and-a-half years on ships and six years in the navy, including training. The majority of the things I’d see were mundane, but occasionally you’d have a crisis. It was either chaos or totally quiet. I think you make of general practice what you want. If you want to treat coughs and colds all day, you can restrict yourself to that and patients gravitate towards you with that. But I don’t accept the daily grind that people sometimes associate with general practice. It doesn’t have to be like that at all.

Dr Ashraf Saleh
Toowoomba, QLD