Hawkesbury's Dr Michelle Crockett has been recognised in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to medicine.
Dr Crockett has been a general practitioner for 30 years, providing medical services to residents from Hawkesbury, Penrith and Blacktown local government areas.
She has been co-principal of Riverstone Family Medical Practice for a decade, and is a fellow at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
She is also president of Nepean Medical Association (since 2008), and a member of the steering committee for Primary Mental Health Care and GP Psychiatric Liaison Service at WentWest.
She is senior GP clinical editor at WentWest HealthPathways (since 2014), which is an online tool for GPs which provides pathways of care for over 700 clinical conditions.
Dr Crockett said it was a "very big honour" to be among the list of OAM recipients, and said she was extremely lucky to be recognised for "doing something you really love".
"I love being a GP, and sharing my patients' journey through life. It's one of the few jobs [in which] you get to go to work every day and help people. It's challenging at times, and sometimes really sad, but it's absolutely worth it," she said.
Dr Crockett grew up on the Northern Beaches and completed her medical degree at the University of Sydney. As a junior doctor, she spent time at Westmead, Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals.
"I loved working out here. I love the people. I felt really at home in the western suburbs of Sydney," she said.
She set up a practice in St Marys, later joining a group practice in Penrith. During her training as a GP, Dr Crockett developed an interest in managing work injuries and did further training in this area through WorkCover NSW.
"I've looked after physical and psychological injuries now my entire career. I like it because it's looking at the patient holistically, managing the injury but also in the context of their family and community and what the injury means to the person," she said.
She developed an interest in mental health and has completed extra training including delivering focused psychological strategies.
"Thirty years ago there was very little support for GPs in terms of mental health backup so I decided I'd have to do the training myself. I find people and the way they think and behaviour really fascinating. It's a very rewarding part of my practice; you can really make a difference to people's lives and what's going on for them," she said.
"We know nationwide there is lack of mental health services. There certainly could be more support."
Dr Crockett thanked the team at Riverstone Family Medical Practice, in particular her co-principal Sharon Muir: "She is an amazing GP and I wouldn't be able to do what I do without her. Running a general practice is really hard work - and we're not business graduates."
She also thanked her patients, of whom she said "they're my biggest teacher", and her family.
"The advantage of being a GP is you have a relationship with people over time. You get to know them and you can help them understand what's going on for them," she said.
"I would really love to see every person have a GP who knows them really well and can help them on their journey through life."