ALWAYS find ways to help people and work hard are the key values Rimas Liubinas' parents, both Lithuanian refugees, instilled in him from a young age. This has been the basis for Dr Liubinas to evolve and adapt in his general practice career.
Dr Liubinas, aged 58, said it was a humbling to be receive an Order of Australia medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours, particularly for his service to the medical profession in Ballarat.
Ever-inquisitive, Dr Liubinas was proud to have developed into a "jack of all trades" in general practice, including a preparedness to look outside traditional western medicine to determine best treatment for his patients.
Dr Liubinas, an esteemed general practice teacher, also trained in acupuncture early in his career when he felt a need for alternative anti-inflammatory treatments.
"I actually started [acupuncture] because I saw a few deaths in hospital related to anti-inflammatory use. People were bleeding to death," Dr Liubinas said. "I wanted to look for different ways to treat inflammation - acupuncturists were friends of our family growing up, so I started to explore from there."
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Arriving as an intern at Ballarat Base Hospital more than 30 years ago, Dr Liubinas has remained practising here since.
Early in his career with extra obstetrics training, Dr Liubinas delivered about 400 Ballarat babies and over time his focus has shifted more into aged care. He has also remained a director and general practitioner at Ballarat Group Practice since 1992.
Teaching has also been a passion through Dr Liubinas's career through University of Melbourne's rural department with roles to tutor examine and support medical students.
That's how general practice develops anyway. When you start young lots of people want to see you but people grow up with you.Rimas Liubinas
"It's all changed through the years. I started as a GP seeing patients in hospital and doing obstetrics and that has changed with more of a focus on specialties. There has been a shift to working with more aged care patients and in chronic disease," Dr Liubinas said.
"That's how general practice develops anyway. When you start young lots of people want to see you but people grow up with you."
Dr Liubinas said he was proud to be involved from the early stages for the KIDS Foundation, driven by founder Susie O'Neill, dedicated to injury prevention and injury recovery for children. Established in Ballarat in 1993, now works to raise awareness Australia-wide. Dr Liubinas said his role with the foundation was more "on the sidelines now" but one he has been proud to be part of its evolution.
Community sport has also long been a part of Dr Liubinas' life and it was in his tenure as Ballarat Swimming Club's honourary president from 2003 to 2006, he helped lead the campaign for the city to secure a 50-metre swimming pool. Ten years later, this was finally realised for Ballarat Aquatic and Lifestyle Centre.
Basketball was the major sport in Dr Liubinas' childhood.
He reflects on his chance to be Ballarat Lady Miners' club doctor through their championship-winning era as "an amazing time and so much fun", working alongside players such as Kym Cassells, Karen Ashby, Andrea McMahon and Desiree Glaubitz.
A Ballarat Celtic Tigers Basketball Club member for more than 30 years, Dr Liubinas remains chasing his own personal on-court milestone - 1000 club games - a goal made elusive with COVID restrictions. He is 32 games short.
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