Meet the Fellows: Dr Jenny Smith

FRACGP class of '05

Dr Jenny Smith always wanted to be a doctor.

Despite no doctors in the family, the idea of studying medicine was always firmly entrenched in her mind since primary school.

What set general practice apart for Jenny was the opportunity to help and be with people.

“I’m very relational, and really, I just love people,” Jenny said.

“I tend to see the best in others and genuinely want the best for them.”

Her favourite part of being a GP is her ability to build relationships with individuals and families.

After obtaining Fellowship with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in 2005, Jenny chose to stay on at the Forest Lakes Medical Centre in Thornlie where she completed her training.

“I’ve now been there for nearly 19 years and feel like a trusted and respected part of so many families within that community,” she said.

For Jenny, it wasn’t one particular day that has made her career memorable; rather, it is the building of relationships and the forming of new ones that maintains her passion for the profession.

It is also an amalgamation of experiences that aren’t always available in other professions.

“It’s the humbling moment that a patient, friend or even colleague entrusts me with the health care of a new family member; the look of gratitude you get from family members when you take time out to attend the funeral of a long-term patient; the ability to inspire medical students as they become so intrigued by the content of my consults and the strong relationships they witness,” Jenny said.

“Above all, it’s the variety that this job brings and knowing that no two days, or two patients, are ever the same.”

Jenny has always had a particular interest in women’s and children’s health, but as her career has progressed the scope of her patients has changed.

“As I’ve gotten older, I have started to attract a more elderly population, whom I love dearly,” Jenny said.

“This has meant taking on more of the chronic health challenges.”

Her time working in an after-hours clinic and servicing an older population gave Jenny a good balance between different populations and presentations, allowing her to stay upskilled in different areas of medicine, including semi-acute medicine.

Although Jenny completed her training primarily in Rockingham, Thornlie and Forrestfield, her time teaching in rural locations in all corners of Western Australia has allowed her to see first-hand the rich experiences of cultural medicine and the unique challenges and opportunities available.

As a Regional Medical Educator for WAGPET, Jenny finds her working week leaning more towards general practice education, which she has found immensely rewarding.

“I have a keen interest in mentoring the next generation of GPs to feel respected and rewarded in their profession, and in ensuring a consistently high level of skilled practitioners for our patients,” Jenny said.

“I have also worked many years for the RACGP including roles in teaching, examining and standard-setting.”

Jenny’s advice to future GPs was that GP training would qualify them to work in any area they chose with a broad set of competency skills to be the first port of call for all patients.

“At the same time, there is a vast scope of sub specialities to expand your repertoire and create a journey and career unique to you and your interests,” Jenny said.