Meet the Fellows: Dr Victor Tan

FRACGP class of '13

Dr Victor Tan’s journey to become a GP began with two simple things - a curious mind and a yearning to learn.

Throughout his rotations in his hospital year, Victor always wondered how the patients initially presented and what was going to happen to them after they were discharged.

“I always wanted to learn a bit of everything and now, every time I go to work there is always something new to learn about different aspects of life,” Victor said.

Early in his career, Victor realised he wanted to scale up the number of people he could help, and during his second year as a registrar he picked up extra work as a registrar liaison officer.

“As a GP you already help quite a few people, but if I help one of my colleagues it extends to their patients as well,” he said.

Continuing his quest to scale up, Victor took up the mantle of supervisor before eventually becoming a medical educator after achieving Fellowship with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners in 2013.

Now Victor is a clinical lead program support officer, providing pastoral care to registrars when they need extra support to progress their training.

“I help the medical educators who are helping the registrars get to a level where they can support the members of their community,” he said.

“Everyone’s journey is different, but the end goal remains the same. We’re all looking for ways to help as many people as possible.”

Victor found that quite often, the registrars in his care had high levels of stress as they struggled to juggle work, life, family, training and exams.

“My role is to figure out factors that are contributing to their distress and adjust and negotiate things as they go along,” he said.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ fix. Every person is unique with different needs. It’s my job to find what these are and tailor their training program to suit them.

“It is really fulfilling being there to support them on their journey to become fully-fledged GPs, helping them through their exams and the stresses of learning.”

After achieving his FRACGP, Victor did extra training in mental health.

He said that education and mental health often went hand in hand; when the students in his care struggled with their mental health it affected their training.

“It also helps me to understand the diverse range of presentations as well as my consults in general,” Victor said.

His biggest piece of advice to his students is to take each day as it comes.

“Becoming a GP isn’t a sprint, it’s a life-long journey with different turns and hurdles to overcome,” Victor said.

He also said to take note of a patient’s history.

“90 per cent of your diagnosis and management is in the history,” he said.

“GP is not about having all the answers at all times; it’s about listening and coming up with the solution for each individual issue you come across.”

Victor relayed the story of a 70-year-old man who came to him for a second opinion on his general health.

By listening to the man, his wife, and daughter, he was able to discern the man was recovering well without needing to do further investigations or blood tests.

“All I needed to do was talk to him and listen to what he was saying,” he said.

Victor enjoys the feeling of accomplishment that comes from figuring out the puzzle of his patients’ health.

Each day, there were ‘fist pump’ moments for him in GP as well as in education.

“GP is really fun, and you get to experience all the different specialties in one day and you can tailor it as you go along,” Victor said.