Dr Richard Draper has been named NSW GP of the Year by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
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It's only been five years since Dr Draper, in partnership with Courtney Hodges, opened Forbes Medicine and Mind.
Through pandemic and while rebuilding their flooded premises, they have continued to see their patients and built a focus on preventative medicine that was last year recognised at national awards.
Now the practice's GP has been honoured for his work.
In the few years since opening in Cross Street, the Medicine and Mind team has had to navigate COVID-19 restrictions - with the rest of their field - and then relocate and rebuild after the second major flood peak entered their practice.
"We were very fortunate to get a really good offer on an alternate premises - we got heaps of offers actually, people fell over themselves - but we managed to score one that was eminently suitable," Dr Draper said.
He credits Courtney for simultaneously managing the practice and project-managing the rebuild of the Cross Street practice.
But it's not just the past few years that are key: it's that Medicine and Mind is the result of a career's learning and determination to build this particular practice.
Dr Draper fellowed as a GP in 1998 and began his career in Parkes working in the surgery and at the hospital in anaesthetics and obstetrics.
He's also worked part time as a GP and part time as a locum in a number of hospitals, but returned to general practice in 2014.
It was only after lengthy conversations with Courtney that he decided he would take the step of becoming a practice owner or associate again.
"We had a vision, I know it sounds like a cliche but we did literally have a vision of how we thought general practice could and should be delivered somewhere like Forbes and we set about to do that," Dr Draper said.
"Nearly five years down the track, we feel we're still very much doing that and that's what drives us - I say us because it's what drives all our team.
"I feel like a bit of a fraud getting the award ... I do what I do because of the team around me."
Dr Draper says every member of the team and those who offer associated services on site is essential. They've also got dedicated telelink.
Medicine and Mind has been recognised for its preventative health work at the national Pen CS Awards, Dr Draper says that's central to his work.
"I enjoy trying to get people - even if I can't cure them - a longer life and a better quality of life," he said.
"That's something we've focussed really hard on here.
"The bit that makes the biggest difference to people and community is getting as large a number as you can with long term management of chronic illnesses and I've got to say I've enjoyed that."
He paid tribute to Nadine Moxey for monitoring the data and bringing it to him to show how capturing data was making a difference.
"There's ways and means of getting people the best possible outcome you can get for them, it takes time and work and focus," Dr Draper said.
That's from the whole team: from data collection and monitoring through the nurses who offer chronic care and who produce follow up lists for the receptionist to put in calls to.
"Everyone through (the practice) works on this concept, trying to as much as we can envelope people in a holistic care model and those with known chronic illnesses we try and keep a check on as often as the system or they will allow," Dr Draper said.
"It really is it about a great team: I do it because we all do it, that's what makes it feel good."
So what does an award like this mean? Well honestly, he's hoping that another doctor will see or hear about it and look seriously at joining him in Forbes.
"I'd happily trade the award for another doctor," Dr Draper said.
Medicine and Mind had to close its books just one year after opening with the average wait time to see Dr Draper up to a month. They opened to new patients for a time during the pandemic but they now have a wait list for new patients.
"Everywhere rural in Australia needs more GPs," Dr Draper said.
"It's been calculated about 50 per cent of medical graduates need to go into GP work to sustain the workforce ... the current number of medical students who identify as likely to go into GP work is 15 per cent."
Forbes has to put in its bid for one of those.
"What we're trying to sell here is a whole lifestyle," Dr Draper said.
"We're offering a work family and we're also with the cooperation of council looking to offer a nice community to integrate into, help getting accommodation - all that and we think a pretty little town to live in."
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