Popular and iconic medico Garry Buchan-Hepburn retires.
Popular and iconic medico Garry Buchan-Hepburn retires.

Doctor hangs up stethoscope after 43 years

He spent time in the Papua New Guinea Highlands as a medical student, when witch doctors still held sway, and patched up gunshot wounds in South Africa during the Apartheid era.

But some of Kenmore GP Garry Buchan-Hepburn's most enduring memories from his 43-year career will be treating generations of westside families.

He hangs up his stethoscope on December 13 after joining the Kenmore Family Medical Practice in 1976.

Known to youngsters as Dr Penguin, due to the rolling penguin toy in his office, he said a sense of humour was vital for both putting patients at ease and to help doctors deal with the pressures of the job.

"At the end of fifth year (study) you had the option of working in hospitals around the world. I went for PNG, in 1968, which whetted my appetite for medicine,'' he said.

"When you deliver a child and, many years later, you see that person come back with children of their own, seeing the cycle of life is very satisfying.''

Dr Buchan-Hepburn is also known for mentoring medical students, young doctors and colleagues, generously sharing his knowledge and experience.

After graduating from the University of Queensland in 1969, he did his residency at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, followed by a two-year stint in South Africa where he managed everything from obstetrics to patients shot by police during the turbulent Apartheid era.

One especially memorable moment was when he had to resuscitate a baby in a poor area with no electricity, let alone medical equipment.

He returned to Australia in 1972 to do general practice.

He said that, despite the massive changes in his profession over the past four decades, the basics of good doctoring had never changed - always listen and never judge.

The medical practice will farewell Dr Buchan-Hepburn on December 13.


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