Dr Michael Bonning is an experienced general practitioner with Balmain Village Health who was deployed as a medical officer in the Royal Australian Navy for 12 years. He has special interests in paediatrics, goal setting and peak performance, travel medicine and health care for doctors and medical students. Dr Bonning loves the outdoors and when not at work, he likes going on hikes around Sydney and also serves as the chief medical officer and expedition doctor for a travel group helping teams to participate in physical challenges in remote places.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a GP with Balmain Health. Previously, I served as a medical officer in the Royal Australian Navy for 12 years and have worked in Australia, the UK and the USA. On the side I’m the chief medical officer and head expedition doctor of a travel group which takes people on physical challenges in remote parts of the world to raise money for charities, a role that I find both exciting and rewarding. My partner, Claire, is a new barrister in the city and we really enjoy the vibe of Balmain and Rozelle, especially all the cafes and restaurants.
What inspired you to become a GP?
As a student, I loved the variety of my time in general practice and recognised the value of seeing people over the course of their lives in the community where they live and working with them to make their health the best it can be.
What services does Balmain Village Health offer? What can clients expect from a visit to the practice?
At Balmain Village Health we strive to provide the highest level of health care, specifically tailored to Balmain and its surrounding communities. Patients feel a sense of belonging as well as respect at our practice. We are equipped to provide every aspect of general practice care and have a comprehensive allied health team too. Our team is growing all the time to ensure that patients can find someone who they fit well with to discuss their healthcare goals.
How would you describe your style as a GP?
I love discussing the evidence and the uncertainty behind decision making, pulling back the curtain on what goes on inside my mind so you can understand better why we are recommending a certain course of action. I want you to leave the consulting room armed with knowledge and a clear plan for what will happen next.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The stories! Patients come into my room and tell me incredible stories about their life. What I find is that everybody has an interesting story; sometimes you just need to encourage them to tell it.
Do you have any particular areas of interest as a GP? What interests you most about these areas?
I have a diploma of child health which really comes in handy every day at the practice. One of the areas I have a great interest in is how we can perform at our best whether athletically, in the home with our families or in the workplace. Finally I also have a particular interest in seeing other doctors and medical students as patients. This is so that the doctors looking after you are also healthy and performing at their best.
What are some of the most important considerations regarding health when planning an overseas trip?
The best thing you can do is let us know early that you will be travelling, because certain vaccinations need to be given well ahead of time to ensure they are effective. Second, good travel requires good preparation and that includes your regular health. Coming to see us in the last week before you travel is important to make sure you have enough of your regular medications and so we can talk about any other medications that might be useful in the places you are going. Finally, if you aren’t feeling your best when you return from your trip, it’s a good idea to come see us again – we can often help get you back to better sooner.
Is there a book or podcast series you’ve enjoyed recently?
There is a fantastic book called The Body by Bill Bryson that recently came out. It’s a great look at what we understand about the human body and why there is still so much more to know.
What are some of your favourite things to do on the weekends?
Locally I’m partial to Café Berlin, Bertoni, Kazbah and Kafeine for a bite to eat and the Riverview Hotel for catching up with friends. On the weekends I love to get out on foot and hike in the national parks that are close to Sydney when it’s not too hot.