Welcoming Dr Gaurav Kulkarni to the Rural Health team

With an abiding belief in “excellent care for all”, Dr Gaurav Kulkarni is keen to use his new role as Deputy Director of Medical Student Education to build resources and opportunities for regional communities.

Growing up in India as the son of a general practitioner mother and paediatrician father, there was never any question in Gaurav Kulkarni’s mind about the path his career would take. What he probably didn’t anticipate was how far across the world his passion would lead him.

It led, in fact, to Australia where he undertook medical training at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, on to the Sunshine Hospital in Melbourne’s west, from there to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Parkville and, eventually, to regional Victoria where he now lives and works.

Dr Kulkarni acknowledges that although the country town of Bendigo is his base, the catchment area is vast.

“This can offer additional learning experiences for medical students,” Dr Kulkarni says. “And is beneficial in that they can access the public and private systems and the private consulting rooms of specialists to advance their training.”

Dr Kulkarni also recognises that the teaching of medicine has come a long way since he was a student. “Doctors need to be flexible in approach,” he says, “engaging in active listening and showing empathy to clarify patients’ problems and concerns.

“That’s why we encourage self-directed and problem-based learning.

“COVID interrupted this for a while, so I’m pleased we’re back to face-to-face teaching. Nothing replaces real interaction with people where honest observations can be made.”

Dr Kulkarni’s interest in tutoring and mentoring junior staff is something he has pursued throughout his later career, even when as a registrar his workload was high and his time limited.

Dr Kulkarni is an examiner for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and an expert teacher in the area of resuscitation of babies.

With such a long and impressive academic and teaching record, Dr Kulkarni will provide medical students with a range of skills and ideas and is keen to expose them to challenging and delicate situations.

Realistic about the difficulty of attracting and retaining a medical workforce in rural and regional areas, Dr Kulkarni remains optimistic.

“Training in regional and rural areas offers so much and I encourage all members of the medical workforce to consider the unique opportunities on offer.”