Medic’s journey from the QE ‘elephant dip’ to beach volleyball

Medic’s journey from the QE ‘elephant dip’ to beach volleyball

After qualifying as a GP, Dr Joseph Besser is now combining his practice of medicine with a passion for educating people about health – and enjoying married life in the sun in Australia.

Joe (OE 1997–2004) went on from QE to read Medicine at Nottingham. After graduating in 2009, he worked at some of the UK’s best-known hospitals, but also spent long periods in Australia, including 18 months in Melbourne as a junior doctor working in Accident & Emergency.

“Obtaining a medical degree permits you a great freedom to travel and work overseas,” he says. “I returned to London to complete GP training at St George’s in Tooting, and once completed, returned to Australia, this time to Sydney to work as a GP.

“I am now settling into life as a GP in Australia. I currently live and work in the Northern Beaches of Sydney in a beach town called Manly. I find myself on the beach almost every day. On the weekends, I spend my time playing as much beach volleyball as is humanly possible.”

His particular medical interests include psychiatry – he has worked both at The Priory and at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital – and innovations in general practice.

In 2018, he started a medical blog, Teach Me GP, and an article from it (What advice should we give to patients about their consultation?) was published in the British Journal on General Practice. “The year was full of accomplishments as I also passed my final GP exams and finished the year by getting married to my wife, Emma, who is also a doctor.”

“I hope some day to be a teacher, to emulate my favourite teachers from QE, Nottingham University and then St George’s Hospital in Tooting, those who have inspired me in the past. I am therefore undergoing training to become a GP trainer.” Joe also hopes one day “to promote better health education in primary and secondary schools. Our health is precious and yet we do not do enough to formally educate people on how to look after it.”

Those “favourite teachers” include Neil Enright, the current Headmaster, who was his Geography teacher through A-levels and who led a “memorable field trip” to Swanage.

“Although I stopped studying English after GCSE, I recall with great fondness classes with Mr [David] Ryan. I wish I had been lucky enough to live closer to the School so I could have remained in contact with more of the staff after leaving,” he adds.

Among his many other QE memories, the “lively” end-of-season rugby dinners stand out, as does the annual cross-country run, with its infamous ‘elephant dip’. “It was so wet and boggy that some unfortunate souls would lose the shoes right off their feet.”

“I made lifelong friends at QE. The best man at my wedding was a fellow lieutenant, Matt Houghton, and the old head boy [School Captain], Ashish Kalraiya, was an usher. Both were in my year.”