Getting to know Dr Abha Shah

Getting to know Dr Abha Shah, a GP registrar on a mission

Dr Abha Shah is a GP registrar working with the Primary Health Care Institute, and so far, she has found her experience with Primary fulfilling. Not only has she enjoyed the flexibility of working at various medical centres and received strong career support delivered by the Institute, but she has also had the free-time to pursue her passion outside of work. We got to know this ambitious registrar and find out what has made her experience so positive.

Why did you decide to become a GP? 
“It was very late in my career when I decided to pursue general practice. I had spent seven years chasing a career in surgery, and it was tiring me out. I wasn’t enjoying it, and my quality of life was suffering.

“I found that I wanted a balanced lifestyle and to be able to see my patients progress. After considering my options, I decided to become a GP. To me, no other profession could provide me with this opportunity. “

How has the Primary Health Care Institute supported you with your GPT terms?
“I have worked with the Institute for both my GPT1 (general practice training) and GPT2 terms. Their contribution and dedication to my learning and education, have been invaluable.

“From the get-go, I have been pleasantly surprised by how interested they have been in my training; from orientation to the ongoing training (on billing, pathology, and general practice) I have received. Thanks to the Institute, I have had the opportunity to attend various seminars and workshops on a variety of topics such as skin cancer and removing lesions. They also hold exam preparation workshops and deliver online webinars for further learning to registrars who, like me, are sitting their exams.

“I am sure that this level of involvement is something that no other company, or private clinic, has done for their registrars.”

What has your experience been like while practising at Primary’s medical centres?
“I have now worked at two of Primary’s medical centres, Blacktown and Baulkham Hills. My supervisors at both locations have been nothing but excellent. They are keen teachers, always accessible and promote a very relaxed and happy working culture. 

“I have had a very positive experience working with Primary Health Care’s medical centres. Due to their large size, there are many doctors, nurses, and allied staff, radiology, pathology and pharmacy staff. Having this all available in one place is very helpful when considering a patient’s diagnosis and treatment.

“The collegial culture is impressive; the doctors are very friendly, and we all work well with each other.

“I am very grateful for this position and I would recommend Primary to other young doctors. I think you are missing out if you’re not working with Primary.”

Have you enjoyed the flexibility of being able to work in different centres?
“Since we can negotiate our hours, I can arrange a lot of time for studying and I can also take part in extracurricular activities. I have also been able to surgically assist, privately, which I love, while still working hours at the centres.”

What do you love about your job?
“Every day is different. The best part is being able to form long-term professional relationships with my patients where you get to see how they progress and recover.”

What do you find challenging about your job?
“I find the breadth of general practice very intimidating. You are expected to know a little about a lot, but I am getting used to that now.”

What piece of advice would you give to young professionals in the healthcare industry?
“I believe it is important to get broad exposure and experience before entering into general practice.

“You need to develop the skill of being confident in assessing a patient, how to troubleshoot the problem and knowing when to ask for help. That way you can be confident when you come around to working independently as a GP.”

What is the one thing you would like to do to change the health of Australians?
“Having an unhealthy lifestyle contributes to most of the presentations and illnesses that I see in general practice. So I think that we each need to be more proactive and responsible for our health. We need to make a habit of looking after ourselves by exercising, eating well and seeing to our emotional health.

“Outside of work, I am passionate about improving the health of the world’s population, especially those who have ailments because of a lack of access to basic health care.”

Tell us about your involvement in medical missions
“Earlier this year I was part of the Global Medical Foundation Australia (GMF) team that served on a medical mission to Nepal. During these trips, we go to impoverished countries and deliver much needed medical help. Over the five-day trip to Nepal, we helped close to 3,500 patients.

 “In mid-November, I will once again join the GMF on a medical mission to Jordan. Together with 11 other volunteers who are medical professionals and humanitarians, we will hold free medical camps that will provide crucial medical services and essential supplies to some of the 300,000 displaced Syrian refugees in Jordan camps in Amman.”