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Greymouth GP chooses lifelong study and family follows in his footsteps

2 July 2018 Kiera Stephenson - New Zealand Doctor

Study without end. It may sound like a nightmare to some, but it is a lifestyle Greymouth GP Greville Wood has embraced throughout his 35-year career.

Dr Wood now has qualifica­tions in medicine and theology from four different institutions and continues to work towards more, quietly chipping away at a paper or two a year as part of his continuing education requirements, and because it brings him joy.

He says he leaves it up to the university to keep tabs as to when, or if, his studies add up to a diploma.

His most recent graduation from the University of Otago last month with a Postgradu­ate Diploma in General Practice and a Postgraduate Certificate in Clinician-Performed Ultra­sound was perhaps the most meaningful, as he was able to share it with his son Duncan who received a Bachelor of Com­merce majoring in economics.

Both father and son had de­ferred their graduations in order to don their academic regalia on the same day when Duncan re­turned from playing rugby for the Boston Mystic River Club.

While in the US, Duncan also did a three-month internship with the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC.

“Graduating at the same time as my son has been really spe­cial,” Dr Wood says.

What makes it even more special is Otago awarding his daughter, Kyla Horne, her PhD in psychology in April; she contin­ues her research into dementia in patients with Parkinson disease in the department of medicine in Christchurch.

Dr Wood says he had always hoped to have a child go to his alma mata, but would never have guessed it would be him gradu­ating from his son’s alma mata.

He says the support of his wife Marilyn has allowed both him and his children to flourish and pursue their studies and careers.

The pair met at the University of Cape Town in 1978 and mar­ried in 1983. Since returning to the workforce, Marilyn has used her degree in speech pathology and audiology to inform her work as a teacher aide.

Having a happy family and an employer and community which is supportive of that family is a crucial part of GP retention in ru­ral New Zealand, Dr Wood says.

He is now on his way to com­pleting a Postgraduate Certificate in Rural and Provincial Hospital Medicine and a Postgraduate Di­ploma in Theology – “It balances out all the science.”

This is on top of the various qualifications he gained in South Africa where his rural hospital doctor work and training in sur­gery, ventilator management, di­alysis and treatment of severe infectious diseases was all part of the generalist scope.

He is full of praise for the Ota­go general practice and rural hos­pital practice distance learning papers and says the workload, including weekly teleconferences and one or two weekend work­shops, is not onerous.

A communication paper for which he spent time at a marae in the Hokianga has been one of the highlights.

He would recommend doing the papers to any GP and says, for areas like the West Coast and Hokianga, a practitioner with dual fellowships in gen­eral practice and rural hospital medicine is just what rural New Zealand needs.