If you want to go far, go together – Dr Genevieve Yates

Human beings are programmed to seek connection and belongingness. The quickest and easiest way to achieve this is to create ‘others’. To make it feel like it is ‘us’ vs ‘them’.

I remember the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality being actively fostered as a school student through intra-school (eg creating different ‘houses’) and inter-school competitions.

The divisive approach to fostering belongingness is used everywhere. Not just in religion, politics and geography, but in every aspect of our lives – from which footy club you support to what brand of smart phone you purchase.

Medicine is no different. I tried to list all of the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ groups in medicine and gave up as the list was too long, and too depressing.

At the end of the day, medical practitioners have the same interests.

We want our patients to be well looked after. We want a world-class and sustainable health system, which requires adequate support of primary care. We want to properly train a new generation of competent and caring doctors. We want to have financially viable, professionally challenging and personally fulfilling careers.

It is time we tried to break down some of the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ in medicine, starting with the divisions within Australian General Practice and the organisations which represent Australian GPs. In unity, there is strength.

To this we have to focus on our shared interests (the ‘why’) rather than our different positions (the ‘what’). As the African proverb says, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

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