Dr Nadia Clifton - GP Synergy
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Dr Nadia Clifton

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Central, Eastern & South Western Sydney

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I’m from Newcastle originally, I grew up in Newcastle and then my father got a job in Sydney and so I did high school in Sydney, and it was during high school that I decided to do medicine. I’m really not sure exactly how I fell into it, but I come from a medical family.

I was able to get into medicine and I studied at UNSW and spent a year doing research at Neuroscience Research Australia on the on the brain-mind-body connection as one of my honours years, and I really enjoyed it.

Why did you decide to become a GP?

There are so many reasons! I think the diversity of generalist practice. I guess most rotations I did as a medical student and JMO I enjoyed, and I wanted to capture elements from all the disciplines, so I decided to become a GP.

I think it’s that diversity – within one morning, you can change between multiple disciplines. You can prescribe UV therapy for a dermatological condition or counsel a patient on managing their anxiety or use your surgical skills to perform contraceptive insertional procedures.

I also enjoy the diversity of career opportunities that GP affords me. I wear many hats. I do consulting and advocacy work on the Mental Health Advisory Board and I’m part of policy making on the clinical council at my local Primary Health Network. I work part time in private clinical work and then also do education as well in the form of educating registrar’s through my medical educator work at GP synergy. I also work as a contract lecturer for UNSW teaching medical students at the St. George Clinical Campus. There is also teaching through my practice, I always have a medical student sitting in with me in my rooms at my inner-city practice.

It’s good that you can have a variety of interests, but still be a generalist, that’s fantastic I think!

Why did you decide to become an ME?

Being an ME was suggested to me through my own ME. I’ve always really enjoyed education, doing the Indigenous Assistance Scheme at UNSW where I was a tutor and I really enjoyed that. Throughout my JMO years I was doing a lot of teaching medical students as well, this just felt like a natural progression. I think we never stop learning, my dad had a lovely saying that knowledge is never a burden. I think we continue to learn as we grow, so for me it was a natural progression to go into registrar education from where I was.

Can you tell us about using your skills during your travels?

My husband and I decided in 2018 that we should quit our jobs, pack up our lives and hit the road, so we designed and bought a tiny house on wheels, which is a more homely type of custom caravan, we bought a big old American truck and decided to travel around Australia working as we went.

We had been following the tiny house movement for a long time and we were really drawn to the idea of living within our means both financially and environmentally and it allowed us to travel and work regionally. We stayed in wonderful locations including an organic orchard in the hinterland of the Central Coast, we stayed for a few months on a llama farm in the Snowy Mountains and even called a vineyard in Port Macquarie home for a while. All while working in regional GP centres and also one of the national home doctor services where we could take GP work to peoples’ homes.

We were on the road for a year. We look back at it fondly and sometimes get itchy feet!

Where do you hope that general practice might take you into the future?

Anything’s possible! At the moment I’m doing the RACGP Future Leaders course which is giving me a little bit of a framework for what I want my career aspiration to look like and giving me a bit more of a framework to be able to look at leadership roles for change management and potentially policy-making.

I think continuing on with delivering good patient care and learning more about delivering good education for registrars as well in the future, so continuing on with my ME journey will be part of the future.

 

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