Doctorpreneurs of Doctology is pleased this week to showcase an interview with certified "Busiest Man Alive" Dr John Van Bockxmeer.
I had the pleasure of meeting John a few years ago and I left our meeting feeling in awe of his achievements but ultimately how humble he was. This meeting played a big part in inspiring me to setup my own charity (Mr. Perfect).
A rural generalist, he is truly dedicated to improving the lives of all Australians and has led numerous local, national and international initiatives representing excellence in the field of medicine. In 2015 he was named in the ‘Top 10 Outstanding Young Persons in the World’.
What organisation/startup did you found?
Fair Game Australia - www.fairgame.org.au
What is its noble purpose?
Fair Game’s vision is for a ‘Fit and Healthy Australia’. After medical school I took an internship rotation at the Port Hedland Regional Hospital. Treating young patients with preventable lifestyle-related illnesses made me realise the long-term effects health inequality has on Australia’s under-serviced populations. I phoned four friends and we began recycling sports equipment in an effort to stem the tide of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental health disorder.
We donated items to remote communities with the tools for sustainable change: fitness activities, health education and mentoring. Seven years later Fair Game has 180 volunteers across the country with three staff members in Perth and hubs in Port Hedland, Broome, Armidale and Sydney. We have donated more than 20,000 items based on wish lists from communities and teams.
Tell me about the first 10 years of your life?
I grew up in a family of six in Mount Lawley, Perth. From the earliest age I can remember I have been motivated to give back to others. As a five year old I made a ‘rock museum’ from camping trips across the state.
Thrilled at the response I received from my friends and family I continued my journey through school volunteering with a thirst for knowledge. My parents engendered me with a strong moral foundation and heavy emphasis on sport and fitness, a great start to life!
What age were you when you had your first paying job and what was it?
At age twelve I began delivering newspapers and by thirteen I supplemented this with casual weekend work in a news-agency.
What made you want to be a Doctor and what speciality did you choose?
The ability to positively influence a patient’s life was my main driver becoming a doctor. My uncle was a rural general practitioner and an excellent role model for me. I am motivated by human interaction and draw energy from solving complex scientific and social problems, medicine was a natural fit.
Throughout university I was occupied with a range of interests internal and external to medicine including writing for a magazine, founding an urban think-tank and volunteering in Tajikistan.
Continuing as a junior doctor I loved the fantastic combination of emergency and primary care that was afforded by rural generalism so I chose this as my specialty. I am a FACRRM with a DEM working in the Pilbara region of WA.
What made you want to be an Entrepreneur? When exactly did you decide?
I was constantly kept awake at night wondering how I could make my ideas to change the world happen! I am driven by the internal rewards of founding, starting and growing a business/organisation and it is this motivation that led me to become a social entrepreneur.
When I was very young I was extremely shy and blushed when asked to make a public speech. It wasn’t until I was in the final few years of medical school that I fostered the courage to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams.
Are you still practicing as a Doctor now? If yes do you intend to stop if your organisation takes off?
I love clinical medicine and am practicing full-time. I balance my work, board and operational responsibilities by having a strict calendar! I cannot see things changing anytime soon, although my friends and family are often hinting that I should "slow down".
Why do you think traditionally many Doctors struggle with entrepreneurship?
I believe that many doctors struggle with a range of management and leadership skills. We are trained to be problem solvers and communicators and not strategists and opportunists. As medical training moves towards a graduate model I see increasing entrepreneurism in the vocation.
What is your favourite quote?
"It is attitude not aptitude that determines altitude".
What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?
Go to the shop and buy all the mangoes, eat them all.