Dr Mark Norman, Chief Medical Officer
Dr Mark Norman is the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at Healthcare Australia and works On-base as a Medical Officer at Australian Defence Force (ADF) Healthcare Centres in four states under HCA Defence responsibility.
Mark initially trained as a Physiotherapist and after some years was very fortunate to undertake medical training at 28-years-old. Since graduating medicine, Mark has undertaken many roles and continued training always to best look after his patients.
In Part 1, of this 4 part interview, we talked with Mark about why he decided to become a General Practitioner (GP) and how he managed the transition from working as a GP to a Medical Officer On-base at ADF Healthcare Centres across Australia.
HCA: Can you please tell us more about your medical background and how you began your career?
Dr Mark Norman: I started my career as a Physiotherapist and some years of applying, was admitted into medical training at age 28. My wife, infant daughter and I moved from sunny Queensland to Hobart, to attend the University of Tasmania. I continued to work as a Physiotherapist on the weekends to support my family.
I found the study of medicine fascinating, particularly paediatrics gaining the Paediatrics Medallion and being offered Paediatric training position in Hobart. However, due to family reasons, we moved back to Brisbane to start working at the Princes Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. In my third year, I was fortunate to become an Emergency Registrar. However, with three small children at this stage, it became hard to balance my work and family life, so I decided to specialise in General Practice and completed my fellowship exams.
Following the completion of the FRACGP training, I joined a small two-man Private Practice in Northern Sunshine Coast area. It started with one partner and expanded to 5 GP’s. We provide Acute and After Hours’ Emergency Care, home and hospital visits and just about everything any GP practice could provide we did. Paramedics were not established at the time and many a time we were called to help at accidents. We were basically an all-rounder busy practice on 24-hour call.
During these years, my passion for tropical disease never left me, so I completed a Master’s in Public Health and Tropical Medicine at James Cook University. Subsequently, wanting a change from General Practice, I briefly joined the Royal Flying Doctors, undertook Locum shifts in Acute Medicine and other roles, before I decided that I wanted to help Defence Personnel and work On-base at ADF Garrison Health Centres across Australia.
HCA: How did you make time for hobbies with such a busy and impressive career?
Dr Mark Norman: I always believed in having a work-life balance, so I always made time for my family and activities, such as flying, camping, music and carving wood. I still enjoy these things today!
HCA: How did you find the transition from working Off-base to On-base at the Australian Defence Force Healthcare Centres?
Dr Mark Norman: I moved to Brisbane for family reasons and I started working as a full-time Medical Officer at the Enoggera base. It was a completely different and new experience for me.
The Defence Personnel (patients) were extremely friendly and I found the work in General Practice and Occupational Health to be very interesting. I felt like I was a part of the team straight away and I learnt so much. The transition was completely smooth and anyone contemplating the move should do it – it will be worth it, trust me! You will learn a lot, be part of a fantastic culture and have the work-life balance you are looking for as a GP – that’s what it’s all about for me!
HCA: What is the best part of working On-base?
Dr Mark Norman: The people! The team I work with are friendly and the patients are polite and supportive. I love every single moment of my job and I always feel like I am part of something bigger. It is an absolute privilege to be working for Defence Personnel who give so much of themselves in the defence of our country. No other job does that!
HCA have always supported me in my role, my General Manager is always available for support creating a positive and team-based culture. HCA have a strong focus on Policy, Process and Corporate and Clinical Governance to ensure the corporate structure can support the people on the ground.
To hear more from Dr Mark Norman, look out for the second part in this 4 part series in next month’s blog.