A Day in the Life: David Brunker


NEVER STANDING STILL When Dr David Brunker has time away from his work as a GP, he is training with Ballina RFC, and intends to continue playing once he is back working in his native Ballina next year


Name: Dr David Brunker
Age: 32
Lives: Ballina
Occupation: General Practitioner

There’s no need for an alarm clock in our house because our son Elliot is up every morning at 6.45am – that’s guaranteed. At the moment, I work in Castlerea and my wife Lucy works in Swinford so there’s not much time for hanging around in the mornings.
Elliot will be bombing around the place and we’ll be getting breakfast and everything sorted before getting out the door around eight. I try to have porridge or Weetabix, but I have to admit since Elliot came along there’s more eating-on-the-go than there used to be.
We moved back to Ballina recently and I’ll be starting work alongside my dad in his practice in July, but at the moment I work as a GP for Dr Madeleine Ní Dhálaigh in Castlerea, so there’s a bit of a commute every morning.
It gives me a chance to make phone calls and listen to a few The Mayo News Football Podcasts before work begins after 9.15.
There are four doctors in the practice, and we see up to 30 patients each over the course of the day. A lot of practices don’t see patients, citing Covid restrictions, but I think that’s a bit of an excuse at this stage. People need to be able to see their GP in a safe environment and GPs need to be able to see their patients. There are so many respiratory illnesses these days I think doctors have to be hands-on.
I was working with Dr Martin Daly in Ballygar at the start of the pandemic and he never closed. I think Dad (Dr Blaise Brunker) closed his practice in Ballina for a morning and decided it was a bad idea. GPs need to be dealing with patients face-to-face and to have the interaction they have always had with their doctor.

In truth, I think healthcare in Ireland is facing a bit of a crisis at the moment. Half of my class from UCD are practicing overseas, which is a massive waste of talent and resources, but I can’t see that changing any time soon.
In Castlerea, I always have lunch with me, and I like that because it also gives me a chance to follow up on the torrent of phone messages we receive every day. On average, the practice receives 200 calls a day, so they have to be all dealt with.
In the evening, I’m back on the road again heading back to Ballina. Lucy picks up Elliot on her way home from work and I usually get in about seven, except on Wednesday and (sometimes) Friday evenings when I try to get to rugby training. I’ve always played rugby and played a lot of gaelic too and now that we’re settled back in Ballina again, I’m looking forward to getting back on the rugby pitch again after Christmas.
The rugby club has been a huge part of my life and I’m only 32 so I have a few years left in me yet. Dad is the team doctor and he was away last weekend so I had to step in. I’m not as good as him yet with the stitches and the likes, so he’s welcome to that job for a while yet.
When I’m not headed to rugby training, I’m home at seven and both of us get Elliot into the leaba and have dinner. We’re pretty organised, so we’ll have all the shopping done on Sunday and all the stuff for dinner in the fridge. After that, we’ll just chill for the evening and repeat the trick the following day.

Both of us are from Ballina so we love living here among family and friends and right now it gives also me more of an opportunity to study. I’m doing a Masters in dermatology at the moment, and I’ve also completed a course in Botox recently, so I’m always at something, but Lucy and Elliot are everything to me.
I think the three of us are looking forward to July when I’ll be based in Ballina working alongside Dad in the practice. The commute to work will be about three minutes, and that will make a huge difference to all of us.

In conversation with Michael Gallagher

Quickfire questions

Your first hero?
Roy Keane – a real leader of men

How do you unwind?
Weekends out and playing sport

Favourite TV show?
Breaking Bad or Peaky Blinders

Best advice you ever got?
Small things don’t matter

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
I got to the All-Ireland U-6 Gymnastics final

Where’s your favourite place in the world?
Ballina and New York, both of them are spectacular in their own way

What makes you angry?
The roadworks near Swinford. They add ten minutes to my commute every day

Name three things you always have in your fridge?
Grapes, oat milk (Lucy’s) and cheese

What makes you nervous?
Heights, I hate heights as anyone who knows me will testify

Most famous person you’ve met?
I’ll go for two great footballers here – Henrik Larsson and Sergio Ramos

What do you miss most about being a kid?
No responsibilities, just having the craic and no exams

What’s your most prized possession?
Lucy got me a pair of cufflinks with Elliot’s fingerprint in them as a wedding present

If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Watch or play sport all the time and go out with my family and friends.