What’s up now, Doc?
IN 1978, a young Dr Andrew Brommeyer arrived in Ballarat to work as a medical intern.
Becoming one of the city’s general practitioners two years later, he embedded himself in the community, and has been a familiar and friendly face, and source of support for many Ballarat people ever since.
Recently retired, Dr Brommeyer has been reflecting on his career, and the role one individual GP can play in thousands of peoples’ lives.
“General practice is what is says. You need to be a master of all trades, from immunisations, to blood pressure checks and writing scripts, to helping with migraines, and preventative life stuff… It’s quite demanding,” he said.
“Your capacity to diagnose people improves with experience and time… but I think the responsibility actually weighs quite heavily on you. Now that I’ve been retired for six weeks, there’s a sense of that lifting. I don’t miss that responsibility.
“What I do miss is the staff and the patients, because they’re interesting, and you can have fantastic conversations about all sorts of things with people from all walks of life. Everyone has something amazing about them.”
Dr Brommeyer said it was always an “absolute privilege” to be welcomed into the lives of families to assist them with their healthcare.
“We would often be looking after four generations of people in the one family, and that gives you a unique perspective on life. To watch all generations together is fascinating.
“It’s very interesting to watch people grow and age, and a lot of patients have aged with us,” he said.
Moments with patients can be special, and Dr Brommeyer said it made his job worthwhile, like the joys of seeing someone’s grandparent get better.
“If you don’t get that personal interaction, then what’s the point? It’s a fabulous privilege that people in medical areas other than general practice don’t get to see to the same degree.”
Moving from his own Lydiard Street practice of 30 years to UFS Medical on Doveton Street north in the latter part of his career, Dr Brommeyer’s professional focus began to move from general practice to occupational health; an area of passion.
Broadly over his 42 years of practice, he said medicine’s diagnostic tools have evolved to be “phenomenal,” including the “revolutionary” ultrasound and CT scanners.
As for where medicine is heading, he sees a “great future in healthcare,” and predicts the use of more and more complex, but accurate, technologies.
“There are some new methods of treatment in the pipeline which I think are going to be fabulous and mean more personalised treatment for all sorts of disorders.
“A lot of the new biological agents coming on stream, you wouldn’t have imagined would have been possible decades ago,” he said.
“With the COVID vaccine, for example, we’ve seen how quickly things can develop when the scientific and the industrial community put their heads together.
“We just really need to ensure that traditional general practice is maintained. If it goes the way of the ‘sausage machine,’ that’s the end of good healthcare in this country.”
Away from work, Dr Brommeyer spent many years, and many early mornings, coaching Ballarat Grammar senior rowing crews, and was a member of Rotary.
His wife Liz is a practicing GP, and they worked alongside one another for most of their careers. Together, they have four adult children, one of which is also a doctor.
Although he’s “still coming down” from a busy and meaningful career, Dr Brommeyer said retirement is excellent, especially with five young grandchildren to run around after.
“I’m helping the kids with babysitting, and projects around their houses. I’m also building up my woodworking skills, making dining room tables, hall tables and stands, and decking,” he said.
“There’s also a lot of Australia yet to see. I enjoy motor racing, so I’m going to visit races around the country.”