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The Challenges & Rewards as an ADF On-base Senior Clinician

An interview with Dr Napoleon Reppas, On-base Senior Contracted Clinician, Holsworthy Health Centre

By Dr Rob McGrath, Garrison Health Services (GHS) Medical Director.

As the GHS On-base Senior Medical Adviser, I support the On-base Senior Contracted Clinicians to manage the highlights and challenges they see in their leadership roles, to provide world-class healthcare to Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

I have a military background, I was a Maritime Warfare Officer and a Medical Officer with the ADF for 15 years prior to joining Medibank, which provided me insight into the daily operations at On-base Health Centres. I’m keen to share the experiences of our GHS healthcare professionals with our Off-base stakeholders and colleagues.

Recently I spoke to Dr Napoleon Reppas, Senior Contracted Clinician at the Holsworthy Health Centre LMA. Napoleon has qualifications in General Practice, Medical Administration and Aviation Medicine and has been working as a Medical Officer for the ADF since 2006. When he’s not working, he and his wife are busy raising two young boys.

Napoleon, thanks for your time. What do you find most interesting about your work in a unique healthcare setting?

“Providing medical expertise at an ADF base is challenging and it’s incredibly rewarding. Every day we encounter new issues, which keeps us at the forefront of medical learning and able to deliver excellent healthcare.

I’ve worked at an On-base Health Centre for over 10 years, and the people I work alongside feel like a family. It’s a privilege to share my knowledge and to support my colleagues—we work well together and everyone steps up when required.”

What are the some of the injuries and illnesses you see?

“As with any clinical centre we see injuries and illnesses of all types and severity. The past few years have seen excellent advances in the identification and treatment of mental health injuries and conditions. When required, we augment the On-base care available to Off-base Psychologists.

ADF personnel are fit and active which means that we see a number of musculoskeletal injuries. We treat some of these onsite and refer various cases to specialists such as Orthopaedics Surgeons and Sports Medicine Physicians within the community.

I’m inspired by the dedication of ADF personnel to return to peak health and it’s a pleasure to work with such receptive patients.”

Can you tell me about an interesting case you encountered recently?

“We recently received a patient who presented with symptoms of gastroenteritis. Following admission to the Holsworthy ward his pain localised to the right iliac fossa, he became febrile, developed rebound tenderness over McBurney’s point and required surgery for acute appendicitis.

The advice I always give to my team is to ensure a thorough clinical handover and to keep their focus on excluding all important differential diagnosis as well as establishing the primary diagnosis.”

What is the best way Off-base providers can support On-base healthcare professionals?

“Timely communication and reporting is an essential requirement. Working together as a team, sharing information, communicating regularly about cases and submitting timely reports all support the provision of the high-quality care for ADF personnel. Ensuring that On-base Medical Officers are kept informed on on-referrals is also an important aspect to providing excellent healthcare.”

What advice would you give to new clinical staff starting work On-base?

“I advise new clinical employees not to be overwhelmed by the military environment. As with all new industries, it takes some time to learn the new systems—even the acronyms!

Help is always at hand if anyone in the clinical team needs support—I encourage people to seek advice if they’re not sure about something.

And I emphasise the enjoyment of working in a special On-base environment, because ultimately there is satisfaction and pride associated with looking after the health of ADF personnel—we all feel that every day.”

Dr Reppas in the middle of Dr Rob McGrath, GHS Medical Director and Craig Sedgman, GHS Regional Services Manager at the Senior Contracted Clinicians (SCCs) Leadership Forum.

  #clinical #employee #garrisonhealth #health

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