Dr Edward Vergara is chair of General Practice Registrars AustraliaWhy did you decide to incorporate an academic component to your practice?
I was always interested in research, even before I graduated from medical school, because I liked the idea of contributing to the knowledge base. In general practice training, there’s a big focus on evidence-based medicine, so it made sense for me to put the two together — the evidence and the practice.How hard was it for you to get involved?
Initially, it was difficult, but I spoke to registrars later in their training and found out about the academic post that you can do as part of GP training. I spent 2 years of my GP training doing an academic post part-time at the University of Melbourne. That allowed me to take on researcher and teacher roles. I’m now undertaking a Masters in Philosophy degree.What advice would you have for doctors interested in this career?
For registrars, I would strongly recommend the academic post. It gives you a good taste of academic general practice, but it’s also realistic — you’re not expected to churn out papers. It gives you a foundation in research and teaching and allows you to explore different types of research. GPs with their fellowship could ask their nearest university department of general practice for opportunities to assist with a research project. There is a lot of clinically relevant primary care research being done, so chances are there will be a project that you’re interested in.What do you enjoy about being an academic GP?
I like that I have to think in different ways when I’m a clinician, a researcher or a teacher, which helps me stay fresh and not get burnt out. The three jobs complement each other. For instance, when I’m teaching students, being able to talk about the primary care research I’m doing makes it more interesting and up to date.What challenges have you faced?
Time management is an ongoing challenge. The ethics process has also been frustrating, but in a good way, because it has helped me to understand my own research.Could you describe your main research projects?
My research has looked at young men’s attitudes and behaviour towards screening for chlamydia. We recognise that it is important to test and treat young people for chlamydia in general practice, but we are seeing that this is only being done by young women, as it has easily been linked with Pap smears. I wanted to identify the barriers and facilitators for young men. I am hoping that this could inform primary care guidelines and protocols for testing young men for chlamydia.
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