It has been a circuitous route that has brought Dr Binay Kumar to Valla Beach ...
From Karnataka, India where he studied at KMC Manipal College, thence to England where he began his surgical training but found he was drawn to emergency medicine, then to the Emergency Departments of hospitals in Dunedin, New Zealand, Sydney's Liverpool Hospital, Coffs Harbour Base Hospital and most recently as a General Practitioner in the Nambucca Valley..
Along the way Binay has gathered a wealth of experience, which will be invaluable in his new appointment as a GP at Valla Beach Health Centre.
Quietly spoken, Binay laughs as he tells me that doctoring was something his mother wished for him (a white coat is what she wanted him to wear) ... and yet now he cannot imagine doing anything else.
"For years I enjoyed the intensity and adrenaline of the Emergency Department but I found I was getting tired of the acute care and hospital shift work, so I looked wider," Binay said.
"I had met Dr Fi Lam years ago when she was working in Bellingen and referring patients to me. I contacted her and now here I am, learning so much and enjoying it.
"The range of issues that come up is vast - so my medicine has broadened, driven both by my patients' needs and also my own curiosity.
"In the hospital I would, for example, fix a broken knee and then offer pain relief, but now I consider how life will be when that person returns home - are there any steps, can they shower, will they get depressed?
"Fi encourages an holistic approach in the practice here, which means we are always asking ourselves how do we keep people well at home?"
General practice is all about listening to your patients, Binay says, so initial consultations are about getting to know his patients, building that relationship ... and listening carefully to what might be hints to the root causes of any current or possibly imminent ailment.
"You have to start teasing things out and building up a picture of this person and their life story ... it is something that develops over time. So if there are many problems, I will say to someone, tell me the three most important things and we will start there."
Binay is also enjoying the camaraderie of his colleagues in a small practice, not to mention Fi's culinary skills should checking test results keep him back at the office beyond dinner time.
"Everyone has a say here, we look after each other ... it is a very different way of working, very supportive."
And certainly that is the sense you get when you walk in - in spite of the COVID-enforced necessities of hand hygiene and mask-wearing, the ambience is one of warmth, with plenty of comfortable chairs around a well-fed slow combustion stove.
It's a great start on the road to wellness!