Dr Kamal Singh chose his extended skills term in dermatology to further work on his surgical and diagnostic skills. Kamal was awarded the 2019 NSW/ACT RACGP Registrar of the Year Award, for completing the RACGP fellowship exam with the highest overall score.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney, initially in Penrith and then closer to Parramatta. During our time in those areas, we always had some excellent GPs who were really, supportive people.
It was one of those GPs who initially planted the idea of doing medicine after high school. When it came time, and given the sort of upbringing that I’d had, the values my mum and dad had given me, I had that desire to give back to the community.
When I went into medicine, I was passionate about general practice. As soon as I got the opportunity to do it, I entered GP training.
What made you decide to become a GP?
I think that medicine is basically a way of humanising science. General practice is the purest form of doing that, because it’s taking every aspect of medicine, with all the complexities of all the research that we do, and trying to simplify it down into a way that you can apply to a person to make a difference to their life.
What do you enjoy most about general practice?
It’s the interactions with people. Time after time you hear cases and stories from patients about the impact that you’ve had on their life. It’s almost like every single day you’ve got another 35 reasons for doing general practice.
During your training, you undertook extended skills in dermatology, is that a special area of interest for you?
When I was at Westmead Hospital as a resident medical officer in 2017 I could see that I was going to be starting general practice training in 2018 and dermatology was one of the areas that I had already earmarked for myself as an area of weakness, just because sometimes it’s not taught in as much detail during medical school.
I completed a dermatology term at Westmead Hospital as a way of introducing myself to it, and I really enjoyed the semi-surgical aspect of it, as well as the challenge of diagnosing skin conditions because when you start looking on people’s skin, you find conditions on almost everyone.
That’s probably where my interest in dermatology started, and then when it came to an extended skills term, I chose to do dermatology, so I could work a little bit more on my surgical skills. I was doing more punch biopsies, more excisions, keeping a logbook of what I thought the clinical diagnosis might be and comparing it to the diagnosis that I was getting on histology and seeing how many times I could actually get that right.
On top of that, I was frequently discussing cases with dermatologists in the local area just to try and increase my understanding. I also did a training course (Professional Certificate of General Dermatology) to try and build that knowledge base up.
As part of your practice, do you tend to see more dermatology cases?
It makes you a little bit more confident when it comes to handling dermatology cases. If a patient asks you to assess a skin lesion, you’re much more likely to take a look at it, make a management plan, do the procedure and take them all the way through to the end than refer them on. Your threshold for referring to somebody else changes slightly and you feel more confident in what you’re doing, so you can provide a better service.