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Why are there no "Australian Doctor of the Year Awards"?

Everyone loves the Oscars, the Emmys and the Arias. We love the human drama and, because they are for celebrities, we all take a keen interest.

However, most industries like to celebrate their best and brightest in some fashion. And for good reason - awards not only allow an industry to define excellence but also to hold up exemplars, whose behaviours can be admired and aspired to by others.

In short, it is a great HR strategy. They improve standards of quality and increase morale and camaraderie - something that is sorely needed for a profession that is, according to Beyond Blue, clearly under psychological duress. Also - it’s a great excuse for a party!

Sadly, when I look at the medical profession in Australia I see a conspicuous lack of recognition in any formal sense - not many awards and even less press coverage for those that do exist. Strange, given that the profession is held in such high regard in the community.

Ironically, when doctors are recognized by broader institutions the attention is intense and overwhelmingly positive. Consider Fiona Wood and Fred Hollows - both venerable Australian of the Year winners - as well as our Nobel Laureates in medicine such as  Barry Marshall and Peter Doherty.

So here is my challenge to the profession and those that serve it - why not an annual Australian Doctor of the Year Awards held at a prestigious gala event?

As well as the top winning Doctor of the Year Award there should be an award for each specialty as well as categories such as Research Doctor of the Year and Voluntary Service Award.

My personal preference would be for much of the voting to be initiated in the public domain, perhaps finalists assessed by panel or peers. Why shouldn’t patients have their say, and overall engagement (and press coverage) would be much greater if the public were involved from the start.

Of course it would take a lot of organizing, but given the potential for sponsorship opportunities one would think that there is enough incentive.

At Wavelength we have just held our 9th annual Wavie of the Year Awards (affectionately known as the WOTYA’s). This is the highlight of our calendar and a time of great celebration within the company. Everyone dresses up to the nines and there is all the drama of the Oscars  - frocks, tuxedos, speeches, cheers and tears.

Knowing what a positive part this has played in our culture, I can’t help but feel that doctors are missing out on something they properly deserve.

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