Goolwa GP Mark Miller recognised with national honour

Honoured: Goolwa's Dr Mark Miller has been awarded the prestigious Rose-Hunt Award, the Australian College of General Practitioner's finest accolade.
Honoured: Goolwa's Dr Mark Miller has been awarded the prestigious Rose-Hunt Award, the Australian College of General Practitioner's finest accolade.

Local doctor Mark Miller has been recognised as one of the nation's finest GPs, being awarded the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) prestigious Rose-Hunt Award.

The Rose-Hunt Award is presented annually to an RACGP Fellow or member who has rendered outstanding service and is the College's highest accolade.

It is the second time the Goolwa Medical Centre GP has been recognised, with Dr Miller having also being named GP of the Year by the RACGP in 2013.

Dr Miller said he was honoured to receive the Award at last week's GP19 Conference held in Adelaide.

"It's a huge honour; to be among some of my colleagues both past and present that have received the award, it's amazing company to be in," he said.

"It was also nice to be presented with the Rose-Hunt Award in Adelaide, in front of many of my South Australian colleagues."

Dr Miller has worked as a rural GP since 1987 and has spent the last 28 years serving the Goolwa community.

His latest honour is focused on his extensive work with the RACGP both in Australia and overseas.

He has performed a number of important roles within the College, contributing as an examiner, and more recently as Censor for SA and NT and Censor-in-Chief for Australia. These roles have seen Dr Miller supervise the training and education of doctors, monitor the certification of GPs and develop important international partnerships with similar international bodies, to ensure a steady flow of certified international GPs to serve rural Australian communities.

He has also worked in developing countries including China, Sri Lanka and Fiji to grow primary care services and to promote the role of GPs within communities.

"The idea of having a regular GP is a good thing because it allows a patient and doctor to develop a relationship over a long period of time," said Dr Miller.

"I've always enjoyed being part of the community here in Goolwa and I think that's what really defines general practice - you are living in and are part of the community you work in - and Goolwa and the South Coast more broadly, is a great supportive community."

Over the last three decades, Dr Miller has delicately balanced a number of roles while maintaining a strong sense of service to his local community.

"I've always tried to balance the work I do for the College with as much general practice and clinical work as possible," he said.

"That way I really understand international doctors who come to Australia and the challenges they face in rural communities."

Dr Miller's role in training and certifying international doctors is only becoming more prevalent, with approximately 40 percent of the state's GP workforce now made up of international doctors.

"It's an ongoing issue on the South Coast," said Dr Miller.

"We have a good pool of GPs but we are starting to get older and a large proportion are approaching retirement age, so it's always important that each practice trains new doctors and highlights the positives of working in the region.

"In many other rural areas where the populations are smaller and it is not viable to run large clinics, communities really rely on international doctors.

"It's really important that we encourage young Australian graduates and doctors to go out and experience rural practice."

Dr Miller said he had enjoyed his career as a GP as well as his more recent international work and was proud of the broad range of services GPs provide communities.

"I've really enjoyed the international work and I think if you work on the principle that everyone deserves a good GP, it's a global goal we can strive for," he said.

"Many GPs work in really remote and isolated places so it's important they have a range of training and a broad scope of practice."

Dr Miller's award is great news for the Fleurieu Peninsula, highlighting it as a prime location for GP training, according to Christine Cook, CEO of South Australia's GP training organisation GPEx.

"Since 2002, Mark has supervised 32 GPEx registrars, personally teaching, supporting and mentoring our GPs of the future," she said.

"GPEx values Mark's commitment to GP training and his ongoing wisdom and friendship."

The Goolwa Medical Clinic has supervised a total of 46 registrars since 2002, and Ms Cook said it was testament to Dr Millers commitment to nurturing exceptional GPs.