Celebrating our nurses – the unsung heros

Over the past year and a half, Atticus Health nurses have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 response in our clinics, aged care facilities and workplaces, providing quality, professional care under extraordinary conditions. In recognition of this vital contribution our nurses make to the care of our patients, we have expanded our nursing team significantly in recent months.

Our general practice nurses play a critical role in delivering continuity of care to all of our patients across our ten clinics. They are a key part of the day-to-day procedures and immunisations in clinic and also support our doctors and patients in many other ways, including;

  • Risk identification, screening and triage
  • Implementing and overseeing quality and infection control measures
  • Coordinating flu clinics to ensure safety of staff and patients
  • Care planning and chronic disease management with GPs, including telehealth
  • Health checks
  • Identifying and contacting at-risk patients, to ensure ongoing routine care
  • Staff education and support

In recognition of their fantastic work in such unprecedented times, we’re inviting the Atticus community to thank our nurses by sending them messages of appreciation and support.

Show your support for nurses on our Atticus Health Facebook social media page. 


What power do you really have to make it through COVID-19?

Earlier this year, we did a great deal of work defining our brand as Atticus Health.  After being in business for 9 years, we thought it was time to reflect on what the point of our existence really is.  After many sessions and hours, we didn’t get all the way, but we did get so far as honing in on three values – Kindness, Empowerment and Creativity.  These guide what we do.  I’d like to focus on Empowerment as far as it relevant in our current environment.

To digress for one moment, have you ever thought about your DNA – what is it? It is really a code, containing information.  How amazing it is that you can take a substrate, in this case the nucleotide bases adenine, guanine, thiamine and cytosine that are the building blocks of DNA, order them in the correct sequence and create various lifeforms depending on that ordering.  There is an intellect captured in your DNA.  Some even fathom that intellect may be derived from outer space, since meteorites are similarly found to contain amino acids.  So, you could say that information and intelligence is quite literally what we are made of – it IS our DNA.

Moving on, as a company that provides primary health care services, we view a key part of our mission as optimising our patients’ health and well-being, with prevention of illness being a large part of this.  That’s real empowerment.  Vaccination is an integral form of preventative healthcare.  Now, this is where it gets intriguing.  A vaccine works in part by inoculating our body with a substance that ultimately sends messages to our DNA to create an immune response in the form of antibodies to that target disease, in this case COVID-19.  I just find this so mind boggling and interesting that we, as a human species have learnt how to communicate directly with our very own innate intelligence – our DNA which could be derived from the stars.  Sorry to be obscure, but WOW.

From a practical standpoint, the more information your body has, which is what a vaccine provides, the more power you have.  And, by being vaccinated, you prepare your body for any dreaded potential negotiation with COVID-19.  Information is power.

If vaccination is one important way to increase the power you have over COVID-19, consider the other preventative health activities – typically diet and exercise to be important others.  They sound simple, but since the rare metal of motivation is the key, they’re not so.  Yet, if we can muster up sufficient motivation to care about such things, without a doubt, our lifestyle stands to have a profound impact on our immune system. And so take heart, that along WITH vaccination, by caring about your lifestyle and adopting an educated approach to hygiene and social distancing, you will maximise your power to make it through these times.

Let’s turn now to a saying that springs to mind – “live and love like it’s your last day, learn like you’ll live forever”.  What I think that means is that randomness is still a bigger part of life than we ever give it credit for or are able to accept.  We need to realise that we’re not guaranteed anything, not even tomorrow.  Still, education and intelligence, down to our very core, our DNA, is critical to our being.  If there’s something immortal about life, it’s that – learning – the continual acquisition and capture of knowledge.

On that note, I’d like to congratulate my esteemed colleague Dr Shishir Malgwa (Shish) for accepting a position as a University Lecturer within the faculty of General Practice at Monash University.  There is a short video below featuring Shish and one of his medical students here you may care to watch.

Shish will continue to work at Atticus Health four days a week, with his commitment as a lecturer occupying one day where he’ll be based at The Alfred Hospital.  Professor Leon Piterman, who works at Atticus Health William Street, has also been significantly involved with education and Monash University over the years, having previously been the Vice Chancellor of the Frankston and Berwick campuses.

Once again, I implore our readership that addressing lifestyle factors and education, delivered in all its forms, including by vaccination, is a major pillar towards the empowerment we all collectively seek to make it through COVID-19.

Atticus Health doctors inspiring the next generation of GPs

Atticus Health recognises the importance of education in shaping and progressing our society.

Dr Shish Malgwa is passionate about educating medical students and has recently accepted a position as University Lecturer within the Faculty of General Practice at Monash University.
He also regularly trains medical students in the clinic, and this interview with Roxana, his current medical student, really demostrates the value of learning from our dedicated GPs who share a common desire to understand and treat the entire person.

How to find gratitude, even in hard times

During a difficult time, gratitude is more important than ever. Research shows that gratitude can help us cope with traumatic events, regulate our negative emotions, and improve our well-being. More importantly, gratitude can have a positive effect on our friends and family too. It’s a small way to have a meaningful impact.

We may go through times when we feel high and low degrees of gratitude, and that’s only human nature.

It’s okay to feel angry and disappointed. It’s okay to wish things were different—that we were healthier, happier, or generally less lost in the world. If you’re having a tough time, stifling these negative emotions doesn’t make them go away and could actually be unhealthy. There have been numerous studies showing that when we regulate or ignore our emotions, we can experience short-term mental and physical reactions as well.

It might not be possible to feel grateful all the time, but I do believe it is possible to be grateful more often than not.

The opposite was true for me for many years, but I’ve shifted my ratio of grateful to ungrateful moments by adopting and reinforcing the following:-

  • Being thankful for the essentials — appreciating what I already have — has allowed me to live more simply. 
  • I used to worry more about what I didn’t have and seemed to constantly crave for these things. That changed when I figured out how to be thankful for what I have, and to be in the most important place – the present. There’s no better moment than the now. Practice gratitude to enable yourself to be entirely present.
  • When you focus on appreciating what you have, you feel less concerned about what you don’t have, and that can help to ease your mind. 

Now that I’m more accepting of myself and my life, I don’t compare myself to others and I take pride in paving my own path. It’s very liberating to do things that are best for me and my family, without trying to please the rest of the world.

Knowing that I have the essentials brings me relaxation and eases my mind. I’m also more at peace because I don’t add things that aren’t valuable to my life in order to avoid the stress they may bring.

I want to leave this world knowing that I tried to give people the best version of me, with the hope that they know how appreciative I am for them. Being around inspirational and joyful souls is contagious, and I aspire to be this type of person.

Practicing gratitude helps lift away worry because I recognise and appreciate that I have enough. It has led me to greater happiness and a better version of me. The same can happen for you.

Allow yourself to live simply and make life less complex, in as many ways possible; remove unneeded possessions & stop doing unimportant tasks.

Start each day with gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for — family and loved ones, breathing fresh air, drinking clean water and don’t forget to smile when thinking about these things; it’s a quick and easy way to fill your heart with gratitude and live in those extraordinary moments.

I’m Brett Thiedeman – Just an ordinary guy, focused, conscious and intentional about my learning, growth & being a change maker in my own life and the lives of others.

Did I miss something at 18?

When do you grow up?  I’ve often asked myself that question.  Is it 18 that I became an adult?  I don’t know but I don’t think so.  Sure, I’d like to believe that over the years, I’ve become more “responsible”, but apart from that, is there much difference from me then, as a kid, to me now, as an adult “kid”?

When I was a kid, I loved comics.  The reason I loved them is that they took me to another place, like perhaps novels do for those who read them.  For me, I equally loved the pictures, the art – so it was a natural fit.  And, what started as a hobby quickly became a bit of an obsession I must admit.  All the $20 a week working seven mornings I’d make being a paperboy, I spent on comics.  I remember I’d place my orders with Minotaur Books in Melbourne city, and mum would collect my stash during her hurried lunch break.  I’d rush to greet her when she got home.  My eyes would grow wide and gleaming as she took out that familiar brown paper bag out of her larger shopping bag.  And I’d stare at that book in awe.  Sometimes reading it, other times fanatically placing it straight into a transparent plastic bag, storing it in mint condition, as every true collector would appreciate.

I progressed to making my own comics at school.  I still remember being in primary school and selling a few to a friend.  Man, to be paid for producing something I loved doing – that felt really nice.  But it was hard work, and it took a lot of time to produce a comic.  Now, being a junior publisher myself, gave me an increasing respect for the comics I read.

Moving along, I can’t remember exactly when, but I had a peak experience as a child.  In my heyday as a comic enthusiast, I remember reading a particular comic, I believe it to be Spawn, by Todd McFarlane and I loved that art in particular so much that I flipped to the back of the comic, looked up where it was produced in America and penned a letter to the artist, stating exactly that.  That I was from Australia and just how much I loved his work.  Heart beating, I placed the letter in the post box.  Over six months passed and nothing happened, except school.  And then one day, something did happen – I got a letter from America, it was from Todd McFarlane.  He thanked me, and within his package, he sent me some bits of acetate containing rough sketches of his work – indeed, his comic in progress.  As simple as it was, this was one of the most affirming moments of my life.

Fast forward to today, we have a medical company and we’re launching a comic.  Why?  Well simply, because it merges these passions, indeed it gives me the impetus to write this article at 3:40am – so there must be something to it.  Comic characters can be influential.  People love a good hero.  Realising this, I reflected on medical marketing to date, which I have largely found to be either boring or scary or a combination of the two in variable measure.  So, a couple of years ago, I mused upon making posters for kids in the waiting room with a character – Dr Atticus.  It was a mission to believe that kids might be so entertained by the content that they would look up at the poster and actually ask questions about the comic panel, with sufficient curiosity that they would remember the message.  And that that message would help them make healthier choices in their life.  One of my favourite villains still in gestation was “Colossal Roly Poly”, the bad cholesterol.  I guess you could say, Dratticus creamed him!

Over the years, we’ve continued to expand on that thought and water it, and it has grown to reach this point.  Dr Atticus, has become Dratticus and Dratticus is about to be set free onto the real world.  Dratticus is a digital comic, printed comic and indeed real-life doctor superhero that you may actually find walking the streets of Melbourne.  And somewhere there, is a positive health message.  One of hope.

I’d like to thank all the people who have been involved in allowing me to bring this retained childhood passion to the real adult world as it is.  There are many, including my dear wife Nathalie who somehow puts up with living with six kids!

As part of our mission here, we have created a little shop called Dratticus Labs in Melbourne, where we’ll be stocking independent comics, producing Diamond Kind – our video/podcast series focusing on kindness under pressure and selling our healthy energy drink, e15 (that’s another story for another day!). Dratticus Labs then is a realm for the fusion of art, medicine and technology. It’s good to be able to support independent artists since, once again, it really does take great effort, commitment and time to produce a unique comic on a small scale and it can be considerably lonely on that path as life heckles you, sometimes daily, to relinquish creative risk.

And if it so happens then, that the whole affair – Dratticus – inspires a “kid” or two along the way, no matter their age, gives them reason to “have a go”, to dream, the permission to be themselves and the inspiration to be healthy, well then, it’s worth it.

You may enjoy social media and use it on a daily basis, but are you “addicted” to it?

Social media addiction is a behavioral disorder in which we become enthralled by social media and are unable to reduce or cease our consumption of online media despite clear negative consequences.

While social media can seem like mindless and relaxing fun, it actually has a significant effect on our brain. Whenever we log on to our favourite apps, dopamine signals in our brain increases.

These neurotransmitters are associated with pleasure. When we experience more dopamine after using social media, our brain identifies this activity as a rewarding one that we ought to repeat. I would feel this reaction whenever I made a post of my own and gained positive feedback.

The rush of dopamine we get from likes and comments is actually rewiring our brain to crave more social media. However I’ve learnt these positive feelings experienced during social media use are only temporary. On top of this, social media use can reduce quality time spent with loved ones. It can result in being less present in the moment, disappointment and low self esteem when posts aren’t “liked” or responded to, and unrealistic expectations of what your life should look like when most of what you see of others’ lives is holidays, good times and beautiful people.

I approach life with a “everything in moderation” mentality and this is no different with social media. I don’t believe it’s necessary to give up social media entirely and instead I subscribe to the ideal psychological outcome of controlled use.

Over the years, after consciously feeling the onset of my own social media addiction, I ran some personal experiments which have opened my eyes about my relationship to social media platforms. Through these experiments I have learnt and implemented a few strategies to maximise the benefit of these social apps while limiting the downsides.

My first experiment was a complete removal of all online social platforms from Friday night until Monday morning

Yup, no Facebook, or LinkedIn for 2 days. Once I decided to go all-in, it was surprisingly easier to do than I expected. Afterwards, I felt an instant relief, a sense of serenity and surprisingly a clearer mind.

My second experiment was turning off my Notifications

When I stopped notifications from disturbing my normal routine, I found it easier to concentrate on my daily tasks and not get distracted so easily. Notifications were a constant reminder that something is happening in the online world and it made me feel like I was missing out.

My third experiment was removing my phone from my morning routine

For many of us, the first thing we do in the morning is to check our phone. Avoid this!

The sudden huge quantity of content which hits us as we scroll is way too much for our mind to handle. It overwhelms and distractS us, and negatively impacts our ability to focus for the day ahead. I prefer to check my phone once I have had my coffee and settled into the day.

My fourth experiment was during lockdown in 2020, and this involved falling back in love with my hobbies

Setting aside time away from work and my phone, I was able to start playing the guitar again and exercising more. Over the last few years I have also started a new hobby which is listening to audio books. In giving myself back time I would have spent scrolling social media I was able to dedicate more time to learning new and cool things.

I hope some of these strategies can help you prevent an overreliance on social media before it becomes harmful.

If you do suspect you have social media addiction, there are many other ways you can treat it to increase your overall well-being. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your GP or mental health professional for help!

I’m Brett Thiedeman – Just an ordinary guyfocused, conscious and intentional about my learning, growth & being a change maker in my own life and the lives of others.

It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain

It’s fun to have sex, but it’s not fun to get a sexually transmitted infection.

That’s the fact.

The other fact is that these sexual critters such as syphilis and gonorrhoea, are on the rise, making a resurgence of sorts, in recent times. Atticus wants to help change that.

The reality is though, that some people find it awkward to visit a doctor in person and talk about sexually transmitted infections.  Fair enough, and for this reason, Telehealth is a great way to connect with a doctor and organise testing.

Remember also that although it’s ideal to avoid getting a sexually transmitted infection, it’s actually very common to get one.  Very common.  Symptoms could include itchiness, pain, discharge or irregular periods and if left untreated, some sexually transmitted infections can affect a woman’s ability to have children.  If you’ve got any concerns, jump online at Doctor in My Pocket and book in to talk to a doctor, get tested, treated, and find the best way forward.  Don’t leave it too late to help your body and stop the spread of any potential infection to someone else.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, but would like to be screened, please feel free to book in.  Screening is an especially good idea since sometimes a person can have a sexually transmitted infection and not have any symptoms.  Screening involves a urine and blood test.

Summing things up, we would encourage all our patients, of any gender, to use our national Telehealth service, Doctor in My Pocket, to discuss anything to do with sexually transmitted infections.  Fortunately, there is now a Medicare rebate available for Telehealth services relating to sexually transmitted infections, which makes it very affordable.  Book in at www.doctorinmypocket.com.au.