General practice is in my blood, says surprisingly old GP

2 minute read

Dr Harker says it's a wonderful job that has kept him young at heart.

Dr Jonathan Harker, 157, is Australia’s longest-serving GP.

As he prepares to hang his stethoscope up for the last time he has “no regrets”.

“I qualified in 1887 and back then the world was a very different place,” Dr Harker told The Medical Republic.

“I seem to remember there was an awful lof of typhoid around and there was even an outbreak of bubonic plague, which started somewhere in southern China and spread out along the trade routes.

“You really had to have your wits about you back then because there was an awful lot of death around. On the positive side, the roads were quieter and antivaxxers hadn’t been invented.”

Asked the secret to a long life, he said: “Well, it’s important to keep mentally and physically active. I still do a lot of my own procedural work, including my own phlebotomy. I don’t take any medication myself and I’m a night owl by nature, but I do drink a fair bit of red wine and the only artificial thing about me is my toupée.”

He then took a sip of congealed wine from a goblet that looked rather like it had been carved from a human skull.

“There have been lots of ups and downs over the past 13 decades of general practice,” Dr Harker said. “I’ve known several generations of the same family and its been a real adventure.”

Dr Harker denied he was just a poster boy for GPs who are getting on a bit to encourage them to slave away at the coal face long past their retirement age, or a cynical advert used by the RACGP to demonstrate how great general practice is.

“The truth of the matter is,” said Dr Harker “in 157 years I haven’t been able to turn my hand to anything else.”

He then gathered his poodle-head cane and as he got up to leave TMR noticed that the only thing reflected back in the mirror was his toupée.

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