From the President: thinking of our future family doctors

Thinking of our future Family Doctors.

At this time of year in Australia, it is the beginning of the academic year.

So, this week at the Australian National University (ANU) Rural Clinical School, we have been welcoming 28 students who are now moving out of the city to spend their second last year in medical school, in a rural town. The six towns that we send the students to live in, have regional populations between 7,500 and 35,000. The supervising family doctors will often not only work in their clinics, but also do anaesthetics or obstetrics and be able to look after patients in their local hospital. What a great way to spend your first clinical year medical school!

Photo: ANU Rural cohort for 2024

It is of course our hope that these students will end up in future as family doctors and rural doctors. How does this link to WONCA?

About the WONCA Young Doctors’ Movement

WONCA’s Young Doctors’ Movement (YDM) is about hope for the future. YDM leaders, Drs Sankha Randendikumara and Cheryl Chan

It’s about the engagement of young family doctors in WONCA. It’s about building our future. The first regional Young Doctors’ group began, in Europe, in 2005. Our CEO, Harris Lygidakis, is a former president (2012 - 14) of the Vasco da Gama Movement as the European group was then called.

The YDM started in other WONCA regions from there. This year, 2024, marks 10 years of all regions having a regional Young Doctors’ group.

Photo: YDM leaders, Drs Sankha Randendikumara and Cheryl Chan

WONCA Executive has a YDM representative. For 2023-25, it is Dr ‘Cheryl’ CHAN Yuen Ching, from Hong Kong. Many of you will also know the previous representative Dr Sankha Randenikumara, from Sri Lanka.

YDM achievements in past two years

Looking back over the 2021 – 23 period, Sankha believes the biggest achievements of the YDM were streamlining and strengthening the processes related to their operations and initiating stronger collaboration with WONCA groups (working parties and special interest groups).

The stronger operational processes include having a biennial activity plan, new operational guidelines, guidelines for the Rising Star Award and establishing a YDM global fund.
With various WONCA Working Parties and Special Interest Groups there have been collaborative webinars, and for some groups a young doctor liaison person now exists.

Clearly some fantastic work was achieved.

Where to next for our Young Doctors?

It is great that our new YDM representative on WONCA Executive, Cheryl Chan, reports that the YDM committee, which has representatives from all WONCA regions, are drafting their action plan for the next year.
The group’s plans include:
- internal collaboration with WONCA groups
- to hold regular webinars and strengthen involvement of young doctors in these groups
- a celebration for World Family Doctor Day, on May 19th
- external collaboration with the international medical students association (IFMSA), and World Medical Association Junior Doctors’ Network
- the launch of the new YDM mentorship program
- cyber security training
 and of course the Rising Star Award will continue …


I’d like to express my gratitude to Sankha for his hard work and congratulations on his significant achievements in governance and growth during the 2021- 23 period. Congratulations to Cheryl on her new role, following in Sankha’s rather large shoes!

Special congratulations to Dr Yong Kui Choon, of Malaysia, who won the Rising Star award in 2023. Dr Yong works as a Family Medicine Specialist at Chemor Health Clinic, a government clinic in Malaysia. He is both highly respected among his staff and much loved by patients. As a young doctor, he has shown great leadership and made contributions both nationally and internationally.

Photo: Yong Kui Choon – winner Rising Star Award

If you are a Young Doctor (in family medicine training or in the first five years of family medicine practice) or a medical student and you would like to know more contact : [email protected]

And for those who celebrate...
Happy Lunar New Year to everyone!
wishing you all good luck, good health, prosperity and may your wishes come true.

Assoc Prof Karen Flegg
WONCA President