It's a great privilege to be in a place of trust with patients and I enjoy the role of being part of their support network.

Dr Innes Chester, winner of last year’s WAGPET Registrar of the Year award, trained and worked as a veterinarian before deciding to pursue medicine. “I’d been a vet for about five years when I decided to study medicine. While I loved being a vet, I found the lack of financial safety net for owners often meant that animal care was compromised or even not undertaken because of the cost of treatment. A couple of close friends had already gone through the WA GP Education and Training (WAGPET) program and they highly recommended it for its structured and supportive course curriculum. For me being WA born and bred, it was an easy choice to put WA as my top preference. Now I love working in an industry that can provide access to free medical care for those that need it and I really respect the value of Medicare to allow us to provide that.” she explains.

When asked about her training pathway, Dr Chester believes research into practice placements, friendships and recommendations from previous registrars, and engaging in regional education days (REDs) led to getting the most out of her training. She shares, “I started my training at Ocean Keys Family Practice with Dr Timothy Koh and Dr Derrick Kwan. I initially applied for the placement following the recommendation of a friend who had heard that their practices offered supportive training. I remember going to the interview and noticing I really liked the feel of the practice and how warm and friendly the supervisors and the practice manager were. I was thrilled to be offered a place early in the selection process. I have found WAGPET supportive and have felt the REDs and key clinical assessments have prepared me well for my exams. I also loved getting to know the other registrars through the REDs. Without their support and motivation, I would not have been able to get through exams.”

But it doesn’t end there for this ambitious registrar. Focused on expanding her knowledge and offering the most comprehensive service to her patients, Dr Chester has embraced new horizons thanks to the flexibility of the WAGPET program. “My training has been very varied. My original plan was to do dermatology as my specialty. To my surprise, I choose not to pursue this as I was enjoying my GP training so much! It has provided me with the flexibility to not only work full-time in the WAGPET program, but also as a vet at the weekend, and give surgical assistance in orthopedics as well. I’ve been able to complete my Diploma in Child Health, Certificate of Women’s Health and Certificate in Reproductive and Sexual Health alongside all these commitments. Its this flexibility which I’ve found fantastic coming from the long hours and shift work of the hospital system. Its allowed me to pursue other interests and gain work-life balance that may not have been possible while working at the hospital.” she says.

As well as deepening her knowledge in different medical disciplines, Innes has enjoyed working with a wide range of different people and feeling a part of her community. She concludes, “Being a GP really gives you the feeling of being part of the community. I love caring for the whole family and watching their children grow and develop. I have had the opportunity to work with refugees and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients which I’ve found incredibly interesting and eye-opening. I’ve learnt a lot from all my patients. Whilst I’ve found the complex social and mental health cases I’ve been exposed to challenging, its also one of the most rewarding aspects of my GP training experience so far. Its a great privilege to be in a place of trust with patients and I enjoy the role of being part of their support network. I find being a GP very rewarding and I highly recommend it to anyone considering it as a career.”