Dr Sue Acton is a general practitioner at Balmain Village Health which provides comprehensive health care for the Balmain and surrounding communities. The practice has doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who are committed to helping patients find solutions for their health concerns. Dr Acton is especially interested in the areas of antenatal care, contraception, skin checks, weight loss, immunisation and travel vaccination.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a mother of three with 15 years’ experience as an Inner West GP. I enjoy reading, running, boxing and skiing. I also like cooking and eating good food with wine.
What services does Balmain Village Health offer?
We have a multidisciplinary team including male and female GPs all with particular skills and interests as well as a nurse, psychologist and dietician. As the practice grows, I can see the provision of more allied health services.
We also have excellent systems to enable recall and notification of results via text message so that you no longer have to phone for your results.
How would you describe your style as a GP?
As one of the more mature members of the team, I draw on both medical and life experience to provide my patients with the best evidence-based care possible.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy listening actively and love my role as an educator. I believe if people understand the problem and why I am suggesting a particular course of action we will get better outcomes. I am truly interested in not just the individual but also their family, context, community and work situations.
I believe in the development of a long-term relationship to enable a therapeutic alliance. I also enjoy collaborating with patients and other specialists or allied health professionals to achieve optimal results.
I also like the variety of general practice – one day I can be looking after a patient with a heart attack, and the next I am providing grief counselling.
Do you have any particular areas of interest as a GP?
I love being involved in antenatal shared care through both RPAH and the RHW as this is such a joyous and momentous occasion in one’s life. I can honestly say that my three children are my best achievement to date. I also have a special interest in postnatal depression and have an acute understanding of how overwhelming this period can become for women (and their partners).
I have a particular interest in supporting people with weight loss through diet and exercise so that they can achieve their goals and get the most out of life – with the added bonuses of the prevention of diabetes and hypertension as well as a reduction in overall cardiac and cancer risk.
I am also very interested in contraception and provision of abortion services and generally empowering women to have control of their fertility. I am experienced at IUD insertion and am passionate about following the European lead on making LARCS (long-acting reversible contraceptives) more accessible. These are very cost effective and have a much lower failure rate than barrier methods and the pill. I am also interested in well woman checks, STI screening and disease prevention.
I have more recently upskilled in the area of skin checks and am able to biopsy skin lesions as well as perform excisions. I also provide knee and shoulder joint injections.
Immunisation, travel vaccination and the epidemiology of illness are additional areas of interest for me. I completed a short course in travel medicine at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine while I was living there. I welcome discussions with those who are wary of the side effects or complications of vaccines and I am concerned by the amount of misinformation that is available online.
If a woman is unsure about the best contraception method for her, what should she do?
Have a look at the Family Planning NSW website for some accurate information or book an appointment with me or any of the other doctors at Balmain Village Health. We can discuss options suited to the patient.
Is there a book or podcast series you’ve enjoyed recently?
I have enjoyed reading One Hundred Years of Dirt by Rick Morton, which is about his experience growing up on a remote cattle station. It is one of the best written books I have read and reveals much about the psychology of family, management of tragedy and isolation.
On a more practical note I am currently reading How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, which offers practical advice that I use on school mornings to avoid becoming a screaming wreck!
As a mother yourself, what advice can you offer new parents?
Parenting is the hardest and most rewarding job I have ever had. Be sure to find time for your own self-care, and make it a priority. Ask for help from anyone and everyone and talk regularly to your partner about your thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears.
What are some of your favourite things to do as a family?
Our favourite family activity would depend on whether you ask me or my children.
I would say the Mother’s Day run with them was a wonderful experience. We all enjoy having our friends over for meals at home. I also enjoy taking them to the art gallery; next stop will be the Archibald.
The children prefer boogie-boarding and we have recently discovered Maroubra, which has great surf and is not too crowded. They still enjoy me reading to them and love to beat me at computer games!
You might also like:
Getting to Know … back articles
You can find all our past Getting to Know … pieces here.