Respected doctor celebrated on Australia Day Honours List

Adrian Sheen OAM. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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Mulgoa resident and beloved family doctor Adrian Sheen is seeing his dedication to the local community celebrated, receiving his Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

According to Sheen, he never thought of doing anything else but being a family doctor.

“Ever since I was four, I always wanted to be a family doctor, and I’ve been blessed to not only think that, but also do it,” he said.

Having been in the industry for decades now, Sheen said the variety in each day has made his career so far incredibly special, crediting his patients as the reason he’s stayed in it for so long.

“I’ve been in practice for 43 years, so I’ve seen at least two generations of patients,” he said.

“I think that enjoying learning about people and creating a relationship as a family doctor is the key, otherwise it doesn’t work as a career.”

Over the years, Sheen has created quite the presence for himself in the community, having not only treated hundreds of people he once delivered as babies, but also provided a safe contact for thousands of local residents, and creating a link to health services that is not only comfortable, but accessible.

“It’s about the fact that [my patients] have, in the community, somebody that they can ring up and they can deal with, and they know that there’s someone,” he said.

“They don’t have to question if they need to be in the hospital, if they need to be in emergency, if they need to see another doctor – who else do you see but your family doctor?”

Sheen added that the medical advancements he’s seen over the course of his career has also been incredibly fascinating.

“We’ve lived through the most extraordinary advances in medicine over the last 50 years,” he said.

“I don’t think there will ever be such an advance in the next 50 years. Of course, there will be great advances, but when you think about what treatment investigation was in the 1970’s compared with what we have now, and what medications we have now, it’s amazing.”

In an effort to add to the strength of the medical industry and ensure that the future is bright, Sheen has always endeavored to be as involved in this as possible, creating Western Sydney GP support group ‘Doctors Action’, providing care in Fiji, developing his own medical device called the Widdleometer, and working as a lecturer at the University of Sydney – something he said has been a particular highlight of his career.

“Maybe you’ve had a miniscule influence on some of them, hopefully positively, but the profession needs to make sure it looks after the future of itself, and that is in the fantastic medical students,” he said.

“We need to try and give them the concept that you can have a pretty good career being a family doctor.”

It’s because of these things that Sheen has been named as one of 1042 outstanding Australians being recognised as part of the Australia Day 2024 Honours List.

Sheen said he felt incredibly honoured upon finding out about his award.

“I was obviously of English extraction, I worked and studied in England, so I think to come to a country and make Australia my home, and then to be awarded such a high recognition, is actually an extraordinary moment, because you suddenly look back and realise that everything you’ve wanted to do in life has had some sort of recognition in the community,” he said.

“We don’t do it for that, but it is nice just for a few seconds to really appreciate whoever put us up for it.”

Continuing to promote and advocate for the work of family doctors, Sheen said he hopes this recognition goes beyond his work as an individual.

“I hope this waves a flag for the family doctor,” he said.

“Being a family doctor is special, and that privilege is given to you by the community. I’m very grateful to my family for being supportive, and to my staff, because it’s the whole team that makes things work.”

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