By Nicko Place
My doctor turned up at our house at 8.30 this morning. My kid has a sore ear, which had lasted a day or two too long, and so there was Evan, smiling, at our door first thing.
‘Well, well, well,’ I said. ‘I’m just making coffee and look who shows up.’
Evan took about three seconds to decide my kid’s ailment was not life-threatening and then settled in to sip coffee and discuss the fact he’d recently discovered that Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs had turned out an amazing funk song back in the day.
And then he was gone, for a day of home visits to elderly patients. There was no talk of money. I think he bulk billed us, but I’m not even sure.
When he’s not doing all that, he is at his office job as a resident GP, working at a public health clinic, seeing patients from a major housing commission block of flats across the road. A wild array of nationalities, languages and problems, and so busy you simply can’t get an appointment.
And when he’s not doing that, he tends to disappear north to work with Indigenous communities.
I met him when I had a bad knee while on holidays at a beach resort. I’d played a little bit too much back-to-back ice hockey then footy and woke up, barely able to put weight on my left leg, so headed to the hospital. It turns out the only doctor on was a visiting holiday-period medic, but I could care less. I hobbled in and was confronted by a guy who looked uncannily like Austin Powers, but with better teeth.
He prodded my knee, moved my leg in a few directions, said: ‘Hmmm’, and then swivelled on his chair to his computer.
I watched as he logged into a browser, and googled ‘Knee’.
I laughed out loud but actually I’ve since learned to love this about Evan: he’s the only doctor I’ve ever met who is happy to say, ‘I don’t know; I’ve got to do some research/talk to somebody/get back to you.’
How many doctors are that honest? Of course a GP can’t know every answer to every medical condition that walks (or hobbles, in my case) through their door. But most have too much ego to admit that and instead bluff it, at least in my experience.
Evan didn’t. He Googled knee, looked at some images, and then talked me through the fact that my meniscus was almost certainly the problem, given where the pain was.
‘Look,’ he said, ‘You’re probably going to need an arthroscope. Whether you have it now or in three months depends on how hard you push the knee. But how about this; when you decide you need an MRI, I’ll send you a referral. You don’t need to see someone again. Here’s my mobile number. Just text me when you want to get it looked at.’
About two months later I did (Um, hi, I don’t know if you remember me but …) and he immediately followed through, with an emailed referral.
By then I’d worked out his day job was right near where I lived and that was it. He was my doctor.
Why am I writing all this? Because I see Evan as a Giant Among Men. He lives his life in a really unique way, including devoting himself to doing good, not making as much money as he can. When I asked him today how his public health clinic was going, his immediate response was, ‘Good. Philosophically, it’s a really great place to work.’
Imagine if more of us had that as our primary, knee-jerk reason for going to the office? Imagine if more of us were happy to turn up on a Thursday morning to a client’s house because it’s hard to fit them into our daily calendar? Imagine if more of us were confident enough in ourselves to say to clients or workmates, ‘I don’t know the answer to that. I’ll find out.’
There’s a lot to learn from a guy like Dr Evan. Including the fact that the Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs’ little-known funk tune is surprisingly good.
Welcome to 2018, Giants. Let’s go hit it hard.