The video that made doctors cry

The first video of a national awareness campaign by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) highlighting the value of general practice, has brought tears to the eyes of many GPs.

The clip starts in the seventies, when home pregnancy tests were not widely available. The young, fresh GP is visibly happy to bring the good news to a couple in his consulting room (“You have a baby on the way”). There is no computer in the room, lots of paperwork on the doctor’s desk, and we see furniture and filing cabinets from times gone by.

As we follow the couple and the doctor over the years, the consulting room changes too. If you look closely (admittedly this may be of interest to medicos only) you will see a beautiful old mercury sphygmomanometer on the trolley. Computers begin to appear on the desk. Time flies in the video; in a matter of seconds the GP and his patients age and new family members enter the consulting room.

The lifelong journey

Towards the end one of the children has become a mother. The GP, now with grey hair, says to her “we have quite the journey ahead of us,” as he gets up from his chair with the visible difficulty of an older man.

Indeed, sharing the journey through life is one of the aspects that sets the GP apart from other disciplines. And just like in the video we’re there for the minor ailments – the nits – as well as the big and often emotional life events, such as a cancer diagnosis or the death of a spouse. I think the video brings this message across very well and that may be why it triggers an emotional response.

But the video also contains another message. Observant viewers will have noticed that the GP has two framed certificates hanging on the wall at the beginning of the clip and, as time moves on, more certificates follow.

The importance of education and learning gained through fellowship of the RACGP is a key message of the campaign. A voiceover at the end tells us: “The good GP is with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, because the good GP never stops learning.”


There is of course, as always, criticism. Some have commented that telling patients they have to do something may not be the most effective way to encourage change – like smoking cessation. Good GPs have a conversation with their patients. Others have mentioned the video doesn’t reflect our multicultural society or the gender diversity in medicine.

Fellows of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) may rightly say that they too are good GPs. And lastly, there seems to be a disconnect between the clip and the message about lifelong-learning at the end. It may be easier to brand general practice than a GP college.

I believe some of the criticism will be addressed in future campaign material – but it is also good not to lose sight of the bigger picture. The campaign aims to improve the recognition of GPs and general practice. If it’s as successful as the RACGP’s You’ve been targeted campaign, the promotion of general practice will benefit all those working in primary care, and more importantly, our patients.

Strong general practice

Personally I hope the campaign opens the eyes of some politicians. Australians rate their doctors in the top-3 of most honest and trusted professions and they visit the GP on average 5-6 times per year. GPs are good value when it comes to spending tax payers money: The average GP consultation costs $50, compared to for example $400-600 per service in a hospital emergency department.

It is a good idea to reduce waste and duplication in healthcare, but poorly targeted cuts and freezes will do more harm than good to the health of Australians. We must also reduce the amount of red tape and stay away from more bureaucracy, like NHS-style revalidation – so doctors can look after their patients instead.

The success of a campaign depends on the people who support it. In a video message directed at doctors RACGP president Dr Frank Jones said: “Talk to your patients and key people in your community about the importance of general practice. Our training and the accreditation standards are why the good GP never stops learning.”

The video touched the hearts of many GPs, but in the end it’s the impact on patients that matters most. I hope its positivity will be contagious.

12 thoughts on “The video that made doctors cry

  • As a chronically ill patient I have have the good fortune of working with a number of great GPs over the years. Besides clinical skills and knowledge, good communication and rapport are what set a good GP or any doctor apart. My current GP asks me what I want to do, what I think is most important and together we sort through the problem at hand and and potential solutions. I feel valued and heard and trust her more knowing that she listens and knows me and my family. That for me was missing in the video. It was one sided and the patients appeared little more than props to be talked at. In fact the patients had no voice at all. A problem that still permeates a lot of medicine. And I am left wondering who the video is aimed at. I value my GPs and have a family member who is also a GP I understand how hard they work and the continuing education they undertake. But feel the video missed the mark when it came to expressing the importance of a collaborative relationship between doctor and patient. The depth and trust of that relationship is what often sets a GP apart from other specialisations.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I would have to agree with Michelle. I am not sure if this was pitched to patients or doctors. A bit old school. I would have thought it should have been more patient centric from the patients voice and not the doctors for it to create a better connection. As a patient the video would make me feel frightened to go to a GP. It is a tad patronising. The best GP’s I know and there are many – listen and understand first. The video conveys the opposite.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Old school does not always mean it is wrong. Patients present to us for a consultation. They are seeking our expert opinion and this should not be confused with having a meeting with a colleague or tea with a friend. Within in that framework this video is very appropriate of what does and should happen in a GP consultation. We as GPs are self employed small businessmen who offer our expertise to our customers at a massive discount compares to other professionals and businesses. Our income is time based and, unless the current remuneration system changes dramatically consultations will never be the complex discussions patients crave for. The sad reality is also that the patients who usually wants/needs this are also the ones likely to want a massive discount i.e. be bulkbilled


    • Thinus people are also entitled to free food but they still have to pay. At the end of the day do not let money stop a great doctor from providing everybody the best care they deserve. If you cannot then do not offer it. It is in the patients and your own best interest. Everybody wants everything for free. This is not possible.The reality is patient survives as the practice dies. The greater good of all instead of one matters. Send them to a public hospital because they have the ultimate responsibility. Sorry to sound harsh.


      • Not sure that we are disagreeing David. The reality is that the type of service that patients are increasingly expecting of GPs would be prohibitively expensive if we charged what we should. The result is that good GPs work themselves to the bone at massively discounted rates while bad GPs churn em through every 6min.
        Off course the public system is an option – if the punter is willing to wait six months to be seen for fuve minutes by an inexperienced Registrar.
        I think the problem is way more than the “just a GP” viewpoint. There is a deeply ingrained, dare I say Socialistic, attirude that GPs are overpaid servants of the masses who should shut their traps and work back,in lifelong servitude, all that money that the taxpayer spent on their training.
        On the other hand these same people might complain about the fee but have no ethical hesitation to pay a Specialist’s account


        • Totally agree Thinus. That is why I am encouraging GP’s to use the internet via social media what their worth is. I thought this video would do this, unfortunately it missed the mark. For me it is the responsibility of a professional person and not the RACGP to communicate directly but respectfully to patients why, what and how you offer a superior service and your importance in their health and lifestyle. I believe it is a communication issue. Only then will patients prioritise and pay a fair value for GP services. While indifference rules the patient consult, this will lose trust and people will not want to pay a cent. Gp’s/practices need to address this issue and not wait for Govt or well intended professional bodies. You are all running out of time with this permanent Medicare freeze and it will hurt patients in the long run and trust me you will be blamed for this as well by the legal system.


  • My first impression, as the wife of a GP, and I have no medical background, the tears that come to my eyes are not because of the connection between the doctor and the patient, but because of all the family went through, the good and the bad. I ask this question: Are the tears in the eyes of the GPs, after watching this clip, meant for the connection between doctor and patient, or because it reminds the GP of all the highs and lows, he/she experiences in the practice. As a chronically ill patient, I think this clip will mean more to the older generation, and people who have experienced a medical hardship. I’m not sure if the younger generation will understand the intentions of this clip.


    • Thanks for pointing that out Georgina. I think you are right. People share so much with us during the course of their lives. Older people, and those who have been through a lot, may be able to appreciate this more. On the other hand, from my own experience I know that younger generations often see the value of a good relationship with their GP as well.


    • Hi Georgina

      Just to let you know I am in the younger generation and I take more medications than my grandparents who are 70 – 80something. I also see my GP and other doctors more than almost anyone I know. (I have one friend who has a similar amount of doctor’s visits per year.) Also I have a number of friends with chronic health problems that are young. We do exist, we’re just quiet about it because few people understand.

      I think it’s okay to be touched by both elements. What the doctor has seen and the journey and doctor – patient relationship over the years. My doctors really do celebrate with me when I have good news, and they are with me when everything is going wrong. There are amazing things on both ends of the relationship there.

      Thank you to all the wonderful GP’s who walk though the ups and downs of life with their patients.


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