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Get to know your old scholar community. Each month we'll introduce you to an old scholar so you can get better acquainted with your peers.

30 September 2020

Dr David Lam (2005) is a General Practitioner based in South Australia. He works at Lincoln Medical Centre in Port Lincoln, SA and has recently been awarded the prestigious 2019 RACGP General Practitioner of the Year Award. David also works as an Emergency Doctor at Ashford Hospital in Adelaide and is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Adelaide School of Medicine.

What is your favourite memory of your time at Pembroke?
Playing double bass in the Pembroke Big Band. Coming from a classical music background, I was late to join in Year 11 so suddenly being around so many talented jazz players completely turned my world upside down and made me creatively hungry. Our big band tour of Malaysia was the coolest thing in the world for 16 year old me.

What is your biggest career highlight?
Being awarded the 2019 Royal Australian College of General Practitioners National General Practitioner of the Year amongst over 30,000 doctors nation-wide. The judges were impressed by my work helping people in Port Lincoln, 654km away from Adelaide and as a lecturer teaching young medical students at the University of Adelaide how to become country doctors. There are only a few doctors in Port Lincoln. So unlike in Adelaide, where you are either a clinic GP or an emergency doctor in a hospital, I have to look after people both in the clinic and when they end up in hospital with a life-threatening emergency like a heart attack or stroke.

The best advice I have ever been given was…
Leadership is about two things. The first is making everyone on your team feel wanted. The second is never giving anyone else a task that you yourself are not prepared to do.

Who was your favourite teacher at Pembroke and why?
Mr Moore taught me High Level Mathematics. He was always patient with me even though it initially took me longer than anyone else in the class to understand concepts. He went out of his way to explain things in lots of different ways until I finally comprehended. I think deep down he knew that, while this was time intensive, once I understood the basic concept, there wasn’t a question after that that I wouldn’t be able to answer.

Name three places that are on your bucket list.
Emirates Stadium in North London for an Arsenal Football Club home game, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and Mei Zhou in China, the home of my nomadic Hakka (客家) ancestors. My brother visited last year and actually found our distant cousins. He said that weirdly they look exactly like us even though our families have been separated for centuries!

What inspires you?
Making sure that all young people have the same opportunity to grow up safe, healthy, educated and encouraged, no matter their gender, race, religion or postcode. This is why my grandfathers gave up their lives elsewhere to bring our family to Australia. This is why I mentor high school kids in rural areas and Aboriginal students studying at the medical school.

If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Kendrick Lamar. He is the greatest modern poet of our day and has the same aspiration of equality.

Name a dish that reminds you of your childhood.
Fish and chips from the Feathers Fish Shop in Hazelwood Park. On the last day of primary school every year, our mothers would take my best friends and I and all of our brothers and sisters for a feed and then a swim at the Burnside pool. The guy who owned the store always gave you one more fish than you ordered.

What is the one thing you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve been too scared to?
Stand up comedy. What if nobody laughs???

What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
There are only so many hours in the day so stop trying to achieve everything immediately! This is how you burn out. Be patient, enjoy each day and things will come in good time. Sometimes things come completely unexpected years after you thought it impossible. For example, it was only many years after I left school that I learned how to DJ and now I’ve toured in five different states ( My next goal is to tour overseas but we will have to make sure we stay safe first.

David Lam 2

David Lam performing as a DJ at a music show