Dr Cigdem Kaya recently joined Balmain Village Health as a GP Registrar.
She describes her approach to general practice as empathetic, open-minded and focused on evidence based medicine. Find out why she calls herself the ‘Dr Pimple Popper’ of the inner west. She has some great advice for looking after your mental health in lockdown too.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Cigdem (chee-dam), I am a local and work at Balmain Village Health as a GP Registrar. I was born in Turkey but grew up in sunny Sydney, where I studied medicine at The University of Notre Dame. I have a rescue pup Benek (aka Benny) and enjoy cooking, traveling, live music and the beach.
Do you have any special areas of interest as a GP? What appeals to you most about these areas?
Acute and chronic conditions are both interesting and satisfying in their own way. The ultimate though are skin procedures. I focused on surgery for most of my junior doctor years, and a skin excision, cyst or abscess drainage really makes my day! Just call me Dr Pimple Popper… of the inner-west!
What inspired you to become a GP?
I felt the best way to improve health outcomes was to ask the individual what that meant for them. Everyone is different, with different conditions and goals in relation to their wellbeing. General Practice is a specialty that allows long-term therapeutic relationships to build that holistic, personalised care that is so deeply satisfying.
What are some of the most important things we should be doing for our mental health in lockdown?
As difficult as it might be right now, keep active, drink plenty of water, consume a balanced diet and see family and friends in a safe way. That might be a walk with someone in your 5km radius, a dinner party over Zoom or an online escape room. Get creative! It’s also very important to be aware of the signs and symptoms that signal a dip in your mental health. These can be different for everyone. Make an appointment with your GP if this happens and if in distress, don’t hesitate to call Lifeline, Beyond Blue or other mental health helplines.
How would you describe your style as a GP?
I’m very empathetic, open-minded, thorough and practice evidence-based medicine.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Listen more than you speak. You were given two ears and one mouth for a reason*.
*not from a medical textbook.
How have you been spending your downtime in lockdown?
I’ve been trying to keep things interesting. I signed up to a magazine that introduces a new foodstuff to create each edition, this time it’s salami – Benek is beyond happy. I also keep reminders to contact family and friends, go for a walk, meditate etc. Lockdown can get very monotonous and lethargic, so creating variety has been crucial. Though I do still get into an occasional downward spiral of binge-watching streaming services (while Benek rips up the garden due to lack of attention and salami!).
Favourite places in the inner west?
Croissant from Penny Fours in Leichhardt, coffee from Little Marionette in Balmain and having both under a tree by the water at Illoura Reserve. Bliss!
Balmain Village Health, 275 Darling Street, Balmain, 9575 4111, balmainvillagehealth.com.au