For almost two decades, Ursula Russell has mentored young doctors who pass through the halls of Shepparton’s Lister House Medical Centre.
Arriving in Shepparton in 1988, Dr Russell and her husband were initially posted as interns to stay for one year, but have been here ever since.
It has been 16 years since Dr Russell took on a mentorship role of her own at her clinic, embodying a beacon of support for GP registrars in the early years of their careers.
She has now been formally recognised by GP Supervisors Australia for her assistance in shaping, guiding and mentoring the professional behaviours expected of general practitioners before they can be vocationally registered.
The registrars have already received their medical qualifications and worked for a number of years in a hospital setting before moving on to a general practice to master their skills.
Dr Russell said the registrars were there to learn the art of being general practitioners and it was her role to act as a support person until they no longer needed her.
‘‘When they come here they don’t know anything about how to conduct a consultation, so I’ve got that experience to help them,’’ Dr Russell said.
‘‘They’ve got that life experience, so they’re coming here as a really motivated group of people and what I’m doing is adding that wisdom and knowledge of having done it for so many years to help them grow their understanding of medicine and people.’’
General Practice Supervisors Australia chair Steve Holmes said Dr Russell had been recognised for her commitment to providing the best care to patients while supervising, inspiring and supporting the next generation of GPs.
She is one of 58 GP supervisors recognised nationally for her service to the community.
The doctors were assigned their own patients on a daily basis and, although they work individually, Dr Russell was there for help if they needed it.
On top of work support, they were cared for pastorally and take part in weekly, individual meetings with their mentor to further their outcomes.
‘‘When you’re in a hospital you’re usually working in a close team of people that’s led by a specialist and senior doctors, so the people making the decisions are usually rungs above where you are,’’ Dr Russell said.
‘‘But when you come into general practice and you bring your first patient in, all of a sudden you’ve come from the lower echelons of decision making to the top of the decision making tree, and I think they all find that terribly daunting at the start.
‘‘It’s a great sense of achievement watching them come through and develop their own clients and their own sense of style as a doctor.’’