Long-serving Tasmanian GP named in Australia Day honours roll shares his wisdom

This time last week, long-serving New Norfolk GP Ralph Peters was unveiled as a recipient of a medal of the Order of Australia for his "service to medicine, and to the community of Derwent Valley".


The 90-year-old has been part of the local community since 1968 when he came to the area and worked as a district medical officer at the New Norfolk District Hospital.


When that role ceased in 1972, he set up his own private general practice and has been at the helm ever since.


Today, Dr Peters told Primary Health Tasmania his interest in pursuing a medical career was sparked by an after-school job cleaning a general practice in South Africa.


"Being exposed to people with various illnesses, I just developed an interest," he said.


"It's a very interesting profession and satisfying to do."


A GP must treat a whole range of conditions in any one day and is challenged by a range of patients with a range of concerns, he said.


Asked what advice he'd give to newly minted GPs, or students beginning their journey to general practice, he said: "Listen. Listen attentively to your patients and they will give you a clue to their problems."


He said the key challenge faced by GPs is the responsibility of knowing the importance of their patients - a skill he's honed over almost 50 years of private general practice.


In addition to his medical work, Dr Peters was also honoured for his efforts for a fundraising volunteer for several charities including Lifeline, the Salvation Army and World Vision.


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