What did you want to be when you were at school/growing up?
I wanted to be a sports star! Ideally a professional footballer but despite playing at a high level I was highly injury prone. I would have liked to have done engineering, but my mother thought I would be a good doctor and so I applied to medical school on the back of that!
What 3 factors make you skip into work?
A break from my four young daughters!
The mentoring and supporting of our team
Working with some amazing people.
What are the main 3 factors that make you frustrated at work?
A sub-optimal computer system
The unnecessarily over-complicated Australian Medicare billing system
The poor administrative ability of the secondary and tertiary centres.
Why would you recommend your career to a young person?
General practice in Australia is an amazing career with so many opportunities – it is diverse, incredibly rewarding and well remunerated, and it also provides an excellent work-life balance.
What has been your biggest career challenge and how did you overcome it?
Working in a rural hospital in South Africa and being constantly pushed out of my comfort zone. I reflect back on that year as a period of huge learning but glad to no longer be doing spinals and caesareans in the middle of the night as the most senior doctor in the room.
What has been your best career move?
Moving to Australia and working at BRAMS in Broome, which is my current role.
Can you describe your work/what you do in 1 sentence?
I oversee the clinical day-to-day running of a busy Aboriginal medical service.
What qualities do you think you need to do your job well?
Strong leadership, good clinical competence and confidence, nurturing and empowering qualities and a heck of a lot of patience!
What 3 words would your colleagues use to describe you?
Hard-working, caring, banterous!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever got from a patient or work colleague?
Always prioritise your family over work.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of career advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Medicine and especially general practice affords so many opportunities – go and travel the world and work and experience as much as you can while you can.
What do you do to relax?
Camping trips with my wife and kids. Days at the beach, paddle boarding, making a fire and being together. And if there is time… squash, tennis, bike ride, surf, run, gym and then I’m good! And reading, lots of reading!
What do you hope will be your legacy to your profession and colleagues?
That I stood up against the political and bureaucratic nonsense, I prioritised investing in people and that I basically gave a toss… that I made a positive impact and difference to the community I served.
Is the thought of retirement a dream or a nightmare – and why?
Neither. Medicine does not define me, and I am completely fulfilled in other ways.
On a typical day, what do you eat for lunch, where and how long is your break?
We have a protected hour for lunch. I am of the age where I like to stay in my room, have some rest and do some stretching and maybe some weights. Lunch is normally nuts and some fruit.
Where are you happiest and why?
At the beach with family and friends.
Do you have any regrets about becoming a doctor?
No, it’s a brilliant profession, despite all the negative press and stories.
Your most treasured possession and why?
To be at peace with the world. Sounds trite but you can’t buy what I have…
Jonathan Blundell is a senior medical officer at Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service (BRAMS). BRAMS is an Aboriginal community controlled health organisation that receives core funding from the Commonwealth Government to provide free and comprehensive primary health care.
It serves around 7000 patients across one main clinic but also oversees the local nursing home and drug and alcohol rehabilitation unit. In addition, the service provides health education, specialised care for older and disabled patients, as well as health checks for high school children.
After growing up in Devon in the UK, he studied Medicine at Peninsula Medical School in Exeter and Plymouth in 2002 as part of the first cohort to attend this new Medical School. After qualifying in 2007 and completing his foundation training in Cornwall, he headed to Perth, Australia for a year, where he met his future wife.
After returning to North Devon to complete his GP training, he spent a year in rural South Africa where he considered he “really learned how to become a doctor.” He became a GP in 2014 (Member of the RCGP, UK) and then moved to Broome, Western Australia in 2017 where he worked as GP in BRAMS. In 2019, he became the acting Senior Medical Officer (SMO) and made permanent SMO in April 2020 just as the covid-19 pandemic got into full swing.