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Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki GP Martin Mikaere was honoured with the Peter Anyon Memorial Award at the The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners Conference for General Practice last month.
The Peter Anyon Memorial is given in the memory of Dr Peter Anyon, who is recognised as having made an important and valuable contribution to the vocational education of general practitioners.
Dr Mikaere made the decision to become a GP after taking some rare time out from his then 80-100 hour working weeks in his orthopaedic role at Whangarei Hospital.
He had taken his two young children to the beach and had so much fun with them, he went back the next day to do it all again. That night he turned to his wife and said he was going to become a GP.
“There’s no way I was going to live my life like this anymore,” he said.
“We had such a fantastic couple of days together and it started to dawn on me what was important.
“I had been working hard – and absolutely loving my job – but barely seeing my family.”
“People would say I was making a big sacrifice for my family. But the only thing I was sacrificing was my kids’ time with their dad.”
On his first day back at the hospital Martin resigned. “I went in and spoke to the boss. They were disappointed but understood my decision.
“There were people there that I really looked up to, idolised even, so it wasn’t easy to leave. But I knew it was the right thing to do, and that going back to my home community to start GP training would be a much better option for my wife and kids, and extremely fulfilling for me.”
Now in the third year of General Practice Education programme (GPEP) Martin is thoroughly enjoying work at the Te Korowai practice in Paeroa, which has about 1700 patients, 70% of whom are Māori.
He sees three particular challenges for the future of general practice, the first being the ‘tough sell’ of getting doctors into rural communities.
“In places like Thames and Paeroa, people complain that they never get to see the same GP. There just isn't the continuity of care because we don’t have enough GPs wanting to live here. I’m really not sure how we can solve this.”
Next on Martin’s list is the always-tricky issue faced by GPs around providing care to those close to them.
He understands the Medical Council’s position that this should be avoided in the vast majority of clinical situations but with about 100 whānau living locally, it isn’t straightforward.
He says: “On one hand there's encouragement to work in your own communities and help your people, while on the other there’s an expectation that GPs won’t provide treatment to family members.
“That can be very difficult in small places where there are lots of whānau and not many GPs, and it's really difficult to get locums.
“It’s a tough one - is it OK to do consults with second cousins for example? What about first cousins, aunties and uncles? Where do you draw the line?”
The third big thing on Martin’s mind is how primary care takes advantage of technology, an area he says presents great opportunity but which must be approached with care.
All three issues were included in Martin’s address to the conference, a speech he had about six weeks to prepare himself for after learning of his success in a letter from the College.
“I had no idea that I had even been put forward for this. It was a real shock but I have to say it is pretty cool to be recognised like this.”
Medical Educator Sally Cater, who was Martin’s nominator for the Peter Anyon Medal, says in the award citation: “Martin has returned to his home community to become a GP and is extremely passionate about improving the health of the locals in his community. He advocates very strongly for his patients who need secondary health services.
“His story is inspiring for those who may feel that medicine is an out of reach career for them.”
Source: Royal NZ College of General Practitioners
Every day, two New Zealand tane will lose their lives to prostate cancer. They could be your father, brother, uncle, grandfather, husband or your mate.
Early diagnosis is critical - if detected and treated early, 600 lives a year could be saved.
This month is Blue September and the Prostate Cancer Foundation is raising awareness and funds through initiating ‘Blue Do’ events, where the community can organise fundraisers such as an office morning tea, a baking sale or fishing trip - anything to get a team together to raise vital funds to fight prostate cancer and spread the message for men to look after their health and get checked.
The prostate is a gland located behind a man’s bladder. Part of the reproductive system, it is regulated by the male sex hormone testosterone and is responsible for producing the majority of fluid that makes up semen.
The size of the prostate changes with age, growing rapidly during puberty - fuelled by an increase in hormones - but in an adult it should be the size of a walnut.
Many men begin to have problems with their prostate as they get older. The Prostate Cancer Foundation says most can be caused by simple enlargement of the prostate, but a few are caused by cancer.
Regular prostate PSA tests are recommended for men over the age of 40 if there is a family history of prostate cancer; or who are between the ages of 50 and 70. PSA is a small protein released into the blood by the prostate and if levels in the blood are high it is an indicator that there may be abnormalities in the prostate gland.
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki Clinical Services Manager Taima Campbell says prostate cancer may not exhibit symptoms in the early stages so it is important for men to be vigilant in noticing any changes and to have regular check-ups.
“Men having any problems such as pain, fever, swelling, blood and pus in the urine or problems passing urine should consult their doctor without delay,” she says.
For more information, go to www.prostate.org.nz
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This week is Te wiki o te Reo Māori - Māori Language Week
Make Te Reo Māori an essential part of New Zealand for you, for us all
FREE CERVICAL SCREENING
Taking 10 minutes out of a woman’s day could save her life. That woman could be your mother, wife, daughter, niece, auntie, nana – or it could be you.
Ten minutes is the time it takes to have a cervical screening (smear) test to detect abnormal cells in a woman’s cervix that could lead to cervical cancer.
This month is cervical Screening Awareness Month and a reminder for all women who have been sexually active to have their cervical smear.
Every year 160 New Zealand women develop cervical cancer, with 50 dying from it. And yet it is one of the most preventable forms of cancer – as long as the cell changes that cause it are detected early.
Cervical cancer refers to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of cells in the cervix, the lower part of the uterus (womb). It usually develops very slowly, with the first signs showing up as ‘abnormal’ cells, which can then take more than 10 years to develop into cancer.
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki Poukura Hauora - Clinical Services Manager - Taima Campbell says women and their whānau should make cervical screening a priority.
“Abnormal cell changes might not show any symptoms until they become cancerous, which is why early detection through screening and follow-up treatment is important,” she says.
“We can’t stress enough how important it is that our wāhine keep up to date with their smear tests because we know that they can save their life.”
Treatment can be as simple as removing the affected tissue.
Many women are embarrassed or whakāma about having a cervical smear test and Taima says the clinic’s female nurses will do everything they can to make sure a woman feels comfortable during the short procedure.
Without screening, about 1 in 90 women will develop cervical cancer, with 1 out of 200 dying from it, whereas with screening, 1 out of 570 women will develop cervical cancer, with 1 out of 1280 dying from it.
Three-yearly cervical smear tests are recommended for all women aged 20 to 70 who have ever been sexually active.
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki offers free cervical screening to all its enrolled clients. Please phone our Whānau Health Centres - Thames: 07 868 0033, Te Aroha: 07 884 9208, Paeroa: 07 862 9284, Coromandel: 07 866 8084 or FREEPHONE 0508 tekorowai; 0508 835 676
For more information, contact
Communications & Marketing
Phone: 021 027 48490