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Photo 1: Dr Priyanka Wijayalath loves to help people and has recently started working a general practitioner at the Ochre Medical Centre in Grafton. Image: contributed

Helping patients is the best medicine

Emma Pritchard

Kind, compassionate and caring, Dr Priyanka Wijayalath has always been devoted to helping those around her.

As a young girl growing up in a small Sri Lankan village, surrounded by a loving and supportive family who encouraged her to pursue her dreams, Dr Wijayalath had aspirations to become a doctor when she was in primary school and worked hard to achieve her goals.

After completing a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery degree, she first travelled to Australia 15 years ago and spent time in Perth before returning to Sri Lanka.

Following her decision to permanently relocate to Australia, Dr Wijayalath moved to Sydney five years ago and journeyed north to the Clarence Valley in 2017 where she commenced work at the Restore Medical and Skin Cancer Centre in Grafton.

One month ago, she joined the team at the Ochre Medical Centre, and has quickly become widely respected and valued for her empathy and heartfelt consideration which she extends to all her patients.

Describing her role as a general practitioner as very rewarding, Dr Wijayalath said when meeting a patient for the first time, it’s important to communicate and connect with them, and let them know you’re there to help.

“Listening skills as a GP are also very important,” she said.

“As a doctor, my role is to listen to my patients, be non-judgemental, and gain their trust and encourage them to speak openly with me.

“I always respect my patients and I want them to know I’m here to listen to them and help them, because I love to help people.”

Dr Wijayalath has a special interest in women’s health, family planning and mental health, especially among adolescents.

She believes it is important for GPs in regional communities to do everything possible to help their patients because of the reduced local availability of specialist resources and networks.

“As a GP, I am in a position where I can help people, and that is what I have always loved to do, and what I want to continue to do,” she said.

“I love living in Grafton too.

“It is a beautiful country town, very relaxed, the people are very caring and it’s a lovely community to be a part of.” 

Outside work, Dr Wijayalath loves spending time with her three children and her two pets.

She also enjoys oil painting and is a firm believer in having a healthy balance between her professional and private life.

Dr Wijayalath plans to stay in the Clarence Valley for the foreseeable future and speaks very highly of her work colleagues and the professionalism offered to patients at the Ochre Health Centre in Grafton.