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Dr Anju Aggarwal: GP of the Year 2022

RACGP honour for popular Sydney doctor Anju Aggarwal comes after thirty years of service to the community.

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“I’m a people person, and so I’m perfectly suited to my role as a general practitioner,” laughs Anju Aggarwal.

She was named GP of the Year late last year by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

With nearly 45,000 member doctors nationally, the association has been the voice of GPs in Australia for 60 years now.

It describes the GP of the Year award as presented to ‘those who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the general practice profession, excellence in primary healthcare provision, and significant involvement in training and continuing professional development.’

Dr Anju Aggarwal is humble about the accolade, and says simply, “I’m more energised to do what I do.”

Her patients at Penrith and Bankstown will no doubt vouch for that sentiment. She lists them, over and above anything else, as her career highlight: “The love and trust of my patients gives me a sense of fulfillment.”

Her particular clinical interests are in aged care, women and children.

“I’m passionate about aged care. I feel it is ‘proper medicine’. Senior patients have multiple issues of concern for which they may see multiple specialists, but it is the GP that puts it all together for them as a full picture of their health. That’s why it is important to have a regular GP – so that consistency of care and quality of care are both ensured.”

In fact, she emphasises that everyone must have a regular GP who will look after their health needs as a whole.  “Medicine is not about treatment, but about prevention,” she stresses.  “It’s about improving the quality of life. Why would you not entrust all your health care needs to a single resource?”

dr anju aggarwal of sydney
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Dr Aggarwal is a popular figure in Sydney’s Indian community, appearing frequently on community panels and health forums. At these events, she urges her audience to take more responsibility for self-care.

“Take greater responsibility for your own health. For starters, exercise half an hour a day. Too busy? How about 15 minutes? 15 minutes of whatever you enjoy – yoga, walking, exercise bike, or even dance, which is my preferred form of exercise. I’m a kathak dancer, and my daily routine of 20-30 minutes rejuvenates me physically, mentally, spiritually. There should be no excuse for not being able to spare 15 minutes of your day.”

The Haryana-born Dr Aggarwal trained at Rohtak Medical College. As someone who had to requalify as a doctor upon arrival in Australia nearly thirty years ago, what are her views on the view that the process in itself is draconian, and perhaps warrants a renewed approach?

She is thoughtful for a moment. “I do understand that the process is hard. It also costs a lot, and it is especially tough while you’re financially dependent on others. But look, I suppose it is an opportunity for the authorities to assess whether overseas-trained professionals can work in a system that could be different to the one they have worked in. For instance in Australia, the manner in which you interact with patients is important, whether you treat them with respect and involve them in decision making. It’s not as if one system is better or worse than the other, it’s just different. Also, there could be difference in skills: India-trained doctors may be better equipped at dealing with tuberculosis, but perhaps not so much with skin cancer, based on the kind of cases they regularly see. Language could be an issue with certain other nationalities… So my understanding of the requalification exam is that it may be hard but it is fair. Let me also state, that there is a recognition here that overseas-trained doctors bring in a wealth of knowledge, so they are valued.”

Dr Aggarwal has been a valued member herself of AIMGA (Australian Indian Medical Graduates Association), which does its bit by providing community medical education programs and free health checks at large-scale community events.

As a new cohort of medical students looks set to begin at university, Dr Anju Aggarwal GP of the Year 2022 has the following advice: “Enjoy your time at university and take time to determine the line of study that appeals to you: go where you are drawn, whether surgery or psychiatry or whatever. If you like variety, take the GP path.”

See Dr Anju Aggarwal’s chat with Indian Link Radio’s Ekta Sharma here

READ ALSO: Dr Raj Khillan, Victoria’s Australian of the Year 2023

Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

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