Doctorpreneurs: Dr Sarah Gleeson

This week's Doctorpreneur of Doctology is Dr Sarah Gleeson.

Sarah grew up on a farm near Moree in Northwest NSW. always dreaming of becoming a vet, but a careers advisor suggestion human medicine instead.

Passionate about rural medicine from the outset, she is now based in Goondiwindi QLD with her husband and three wild boys aged 3.5, 5 and 6.5.

She works at the Goondiwindi Medical Centre as a senior GP, at an outreach service for the Aboriginal community of Boggabilla and at the Goondiwindi Hospital in the Emergency and Obstetrics departments, as well as teaching medical students at the UQ Rural Clinical School.

What organisation / startup did you found?

I am the Co-Founder and Director of Family HQ and the Practice Partner at Goondiwindi Medical Centre.

What is its noble purpose? Family HQ's mission is to create an app that will make life easier during times of illness, reduce the rate of accidental medication errors, and improve health outcomes for families worldwide.

Tell me about the first 10 years of your life?

I am the eldest of four kids and have always been a bit of a "tom-boy", raised by very loving and supportive parents on a mixed cattle/cropping property 50km from town.

I spent a lot of time outdoors exploring, climbing trees, riding horses, mustering cattle, and tending to the Noah's ark of animals we had.

My favourite pastimes were reading, riding my pee-wee 50 motorbike, playing netball, making tree-houses, and trying to save every half-dead animal that crossed my path. I attempted piano lessons for about six months, then decided that "I had too much homework" and quit.

I attended the local catholic primary school (which I loved) and had a one hour trip on the bus each way to school which significantly broadened my vocabulary. This journey allowed me to read the entire collection of Footrot Flats comics.

My favourite teacher of all time was my year three teacher, Mr Chisholm. He was a cranky 70-something Irish man who wore long white socks and neatly ironed shorts. He instilled in me a determination to always push myself and guided me to become "champion of champions" in our year three times table competition.

What age were you when you had your first paying job? What was it? Probably ten years old. I had loads of small paid jobs around the farm when I was a kid. The first job officially on someone's payroll was medical reception when I was 18.

What made you want to be a Doctor and what specialty did you choose? Why? I always wanted to be a Vet. A wise careers teacher suggested medicine would be more rewarding and to be wary of "making a career out of a hobby".

I always wanted to return to work in the bush, and raise my kids with plenty of space and freedom.

I chose to be a Rural Generalist after some formative experiences in Rural Medicine as a Medical Student and Junior Doctor. I chose Obstetrics/Gynaecology as my advanced procedural skill as I love the thrill of intrapartum care, and can use my skill for antenatal shared care and women's health every day in general practice also.

What made you want to be an Entrepreneur or follow an alternative route? When exactly did you decide?

I have always been a problem solver. I have an intense curiosity about the way things work. I enjoy improving processes and instilling efficiency where possible. I enjoy learning about the psychology of marketing and leadership. My sister pitched the idea behind Family HQ to me in early 2019 and I could not say no.

Are you still practicing as a Doctor now? If yes, do you intend to stop if the organisation takes off?

Yes, no intention to stop practicing once the wheels really get turning for Family HQ, but I may drop back my hours slightly.

Why do you think traditionally many Doctors struggle with entrepreneurship? Or at least they are perceived to?

Not enough time, not enough sleep. Some may think it deviates away from the benevolence of medicine.

What is your favourite quote?

I'm not really one to quote people, but I found this today and it really resonated with me:

"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious".

Albert Einstein.

What would you do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse?

Head to my parents farm with my kids and lots of books.

You can find out more about Family HQ here:

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