ARARAT - One of Ararat's current longest serving doctors, Michael Connellan has been awarded the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) 2012 General Practice Supervisor of the Year Award.
The award recognises the dedication of general practitioners who have significantly contributed towards the training and mentoring of GP registrars, leading by example and inspiring those coming through the system to gain a strong appreciation for the general practice profession.
Dr Connellan, who has been a GP at the Ararat Medical Centre for the past 18 years, first got involved in the training and mentoring program in 1998.
"I always say that I learn quite a bit from them as much as they do from me and it is good to see them develop and become more confident with their skills and work in general practice," Dr Connellan said.
"A lot of the registrars that we get here are straight out of the city hospitals and they are often a little more up to date with the stuff that goes on.
"Most of the time it is a bit of fun and I like encouraging them to work outside of Melbourne too and show them that it is actually not a bad life living here in a town like Ararat."
Since 1998 the Ararat Medical Centre has had about 35 to 40 registrars spend time learning off the practice's experienced doctors.
Dr Connellan regularly provides GP registrar training and medical student teaching, as well as offering his time and expertise via tutorials, phone support and clinical mentoring.
"All the doctors are involved in the program to some extent, but Peter Pretorius is the other one who does the same sort of work load as I do as far as the students go," Dr Connellan said.
"So I need to acknowledge Peter's help, because you can't do it by yourself and also (Ararat Medical Centre manager) Gary Hurst, who makes life much easier for us.
"That's one of the reasons we do the mentoring program to encourage them to come out of Melbourne into the country areas.
"A lot of them are a bit scared about working outside of the big centres, so we encourage them and show them that it is safe and there is a whole lot of facilities that they don't realise that we've got."
Dr Connellan said some of the registrars who initially planned to stay for six or so months have decided to stay on for as long as three years.
Winning the award was an unexpected honour for Dr Connellan, who said he felt privileged to be recognised for doing something he loved.
"I've always had an interest in doing it, particularly because I had a couple of inspiring teachers of my own and that got me into it," he said.
"John Pickering up in Dimboola was a big influence on me when I was a registrar. He was a great GP, but also a great educator and mentor, so that got me going on it.
"It certainly is an honour to receive something like this, and I can only really do it because of the support I get from the practice and from the support I get at home."