Interview with GPTT Registrar Aaron Hawkins

I’m Aaron, an ACRRM registrar and in my third year with GPTT, and the Registrar Liaison Officer for the North West and ACRRM. I’m working in psychiatry this year for my advanced specialised training (AST), and last year I was in Smithton working at the general practice and district hospital.

Why did I you choose the North West?

In 2018 I moved with my (now) wife from Brisbane to Burnie, in search of beautiful mountains to hike and an escape from the QLD summer humidity. We came to the North West not only for its beauty, but also the medical experience that rural practice could give.

Why did I choose general practice?

Throughout university and my early resident years I changed my mind about my career path about six of seven times – First I wanted to be a paediatrician, then an emergency physician, then respiratory physician, then psychiatrist. Finally I realised that general practice offered me a chance to work in all these areas, as well as flexibility with a young family and flexibility working rurally. Since starting in general practice, I’ve been able to combine all these interests as well as experience new areas of medicine I never thought I would enjoy, such as obstetrics and skin cancer.

What are you passions and career plans?

Despite all those interests, I am most passionate about mental health. This year I’m working 12mths as a psych registrar for my ACRRM AST training. I’m hoping I will be able to integrate this into my general practice in the future, working with a special focus on mental health. Hopefully this will be in a community like Smithton, where I spent 2019, hopefully filling in some of the gaps in mental health care we have in rural Australia.

Smithton, in the North West is a rural general practice. My year spent in Smithton in 2019 was the most rewarding year of my medical career by far. I learnt very quickly why working in small communities is such an amazing, and at times exhausting, experience. My wife and I were welcomed to the town and practice like family. My patients were the same people we’d buy groceries from or serve us in the pub. At first it was daunting to run into my patients at Woolies, but it quickly became a highlight.

As for medical experience, working in rural practice gave me the chance to combine GP, emergency and inpatient practice. I could admit people to the hospital directly from my consulting room, continue their inpatient management myself and then discharge them back home, with continuity of care all the way through. I also got to experience the excitement (and occasionally the sheer terror) of being on call for the district hospital, an invaluable and rewarding experience I will take with me forever.

It would be great if every GPTT registrar had the chance to get some experience in a practice and community like Smithton.

This year I’m working as a psychiatry as a registrar. The position is a rotating position for GP Registrars for 12 mths, working in acute care team (CATT), community case management team and older person’s psychiatry team. It’s been a fantastic experience so far which will be invaluable for my practice when I return to primary care.

There is still time to apply for entry into the AGPT program for 2021. Final round applications for ACRRM are open now and close  Monday 31 August while RACGP intake Round Two open Monday 31 August to Monday 21 September 2020. For more information go to