HUMANS OF THE HIGHLANDS // Dr Jo Tong

Meet the new GP at Walker Street General Practice

 

For someone who doesn’t like the cold, Dr Jo Tong sure seems to find herself in some chilly places! From Albury to Orange, back to Albury again, and now the Southern Highlands, Jo earned her GP stripes in regional NSW and is now based at Walker Street General Practice in Bowral.

We spoke to Jo about life as a doctor, her passion for teaching, family health and preventative medicine practices and her first impressions of living and working the Southern Highlands. Oh, and we also met her gorgeous rescue Siberian huskies, Scarlett and Mia! So beautiful!

 

Walker Street GP Dr Jo Tong

 

1 // You grew up in Sydney. How did you end up in the country?

I grew up in Baulkham Hills and went to school there before I started my medical degree at uni. When I was a med student, I moved to Albury for two years as part of my studies and just loved it. 

I didn’t have to sit in traffic or fight with people to merge lanes! It was a much nicer and laidback lifestyle.

I moved back to Sydney for my final year of uni and let’s just say, I didn’t cope very well. It was then I realised that big cities weren’t for me. So, I did my internship and residency in Orange, then went back to Albury where I stayed and practiced for over ten years.

 

2 // So, why the move to the Southern Highlands?

The practice where I worked took a new direction, and I was ready for a change. I had some close friends in Bargo so had visited the Highlands before and loved it. I wanted to be close to them and to my parents in Sydney, so I moved here and have settled in Aylmerton. 

I also wanted to live on more land. It’s no secret I’m obsessed with dogs and it’s a dream of mine to do some dog rescue work. To do that effectively, I need a couple of acres. I lived in town when I was in Albury which was great for being close to work, but I didn’t have the extra land I wanted.

 

3 // How would you describe your approach to medicine and your GP work?

I love children and working with families. I also like to be involved in the continuity of care. At Walker Street General Pratice, we don’t just see someone once and that’s it. If patients have a chronic illness, such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems or any other chronic conditions that may significantly impact on their quality of life,we help them manage it and provide consistent support. 

I also like the preventative side of medicine and believe a holistic general practice like Walker Street can really help with informing and educating patients about managing their health and wellbeing.

 

4 // We understand you have a passion for teaching and you are an accredited GP Supervisor. How did you start on this path? 

I've always enjoyed teaching medical students how to be well-rounded doctors and how to really listen to patients. Teaching GP Registrars was a natural step. I believe being a good GP is not just about being a doctor, it's also about how to build a meangingful relationship with your patients and to be able to help look after all aspects of their life, throughout their different life stafes. This isn't something that you can learn out of a textbook. Training the next generation of GPs to do that is highly rewarding. 

 

5 // Okay we MUST mention your gorgeous dogs! Tell us about Scarlett and Mia.

They’re the first two dogs I’ve ever owned! Growing up in Sydney, my parents never agreed to having a dog (even though I asked plenty of times!).

I adopted Scarlett in 2012 – she was 3 years old at the time. I felt guilty about leaving Scarlett at home by herself while I was at work, so adopted Mia two years later. Adopting rescue dogs was particularly important to me. There are so many unwanted pets in pounds and at rescue organisations looking for someone to love them. 

 

6 // Having relocated to the Southern Highlands, what are your first impressions?

I love it. Everyone is so friendly and at the moment, it’s all so green. I know that’s not always the case, but it’s just so beautiful in the Highlands at this time of year. 

 

7 // What do you hope to achieve at Walker Street General Practice?

I really enjoy the variety being a GP provides, so I’m looking forward to more of that. I also want to make sure my patients always feel comfortable talking to me. Communication and being open is an important part of the patient and doctor relationship. 

I am accepting new patients and I look forward to seeing some more new faces and being involved in their long term care and health needs. 

 

Walker St General Practice

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