After completing a science degree at Otago University I went on to Medical School and graduated with my medical degree from The University of Auckland in (gulp) 1988. I performed a number of junior doctor jobs – including a year or so of paediatrics – before starting on my training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O and G).
I began my O and G training in Auckland before moving to the UK to complete my specialist training in 1994. I spent a couple of years working at a district general hospital (Wycombe General) before finishing my training at Guys and Thomas’s Hospitals in London. During this time I passed my final specialist exams and became a member of the Royal College of O and G in London (MRCOG) and a member of the Royal Australian and NZ College of O and G (MRANZCOG). By the time I returned to NZ in early 1997 I had attained my final specialist qualification – Fellowship of the Royal Australian and NZ College of O and G (FRANZCOG). Much later – in 2008 – I would receive my Fellowship of the RCOG in London but to be completely truthful this is more a reward for staying out of trouble for ten years or so than any great academic achievement.
So I trained in the “good old days” when weeks of more than 100 hours on duty were common – on top of studying for exams – and a weekend on duty (i.e. physically in the hospital operating, managing emergencies and delivering babies) was 48 hours long. While stressful and exhausting this did impart a great deal of experience and the ability to stand on ones two feet (if you know what I mean), especially as specialists in the UK came in to the hospital to help you only very rarely.
During my training I gravitated towards obstetrics (pregnancy and childbirth) and away from gynaecology so by the time I had finished my training I practiced gynaecology only rarely and by 2003 I had given up gynaecology completely (pap smears and breast checks aside). However as both a trainee and a specialist I practised caring for pregnant women with significant pre-existing medical conditions or serious obstetric complications (such as premature birth or preeclampsia). I have been part of high risk pregnancy services of St Thomas’s Hospital in London, National Women’s Hospital in Auckland and The Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney.
Anyway I returned to Auckland in early 1997 (along with my soon – to – be ex-wife and two small boys, Nicholas and Matthew) and after working as the Perinatal Senior Registrar there I obtained my first specialist appointment at National Women’s Hospital (NWH). I worked on the high risk pregnancy / perinatal service at NWH continuously until I moved to Sydney in 2003. From 2001 until 2003 I held an additional part time role as the Principal Medical Advisor to the NZ Ministry of Health during the time of the Helen Clark government. This role gave me some fantastic insights into the workings of government and the health system as a whole. By 2003 I was, um, romantically involved with Sue, a Sydneysider and, well, one of us had to move. I was appointed as the Director of Obstetrics at The Royal Hospital for Women in 2003. I remained in that role until 2005. My comparatively short tenure in this role can best be diplomatically attributed to the challenges of working in the NSW public health system.
In 2003 I was appointed as a Conjoint Senior Lecturer at UNSW; a role I have held ever since.
Anyway in 2005 – for the very first time – I began private practice in obstetrics in Sydney. (It surprises many people that know me as an Eastern Suburbs dwelling, German car driving, Ferragamo wearing so and so that prior to 2005 I had no intention of conducting private practice and was completely dedicated to the public health system).
I have been in private practice since 2005 and, as Sue says, I have never looked back. I love the contact with my patients and of course I have now helped many couples start – and complete – their families. There is little greater joy for me than bumping into my former patients and their growing healthy kids.
While I have been busy in private practice I have maintained by public commitments at The Royal Hospital for Women although to be fair these have declined over the years. I am still on the out of hour’s roster at The Royal and participate in a number of the clinical quality activities conducted there. I now no longer book private births at The Royal but can look after women there if, for example, they have a preterm birth or other complication that necessitates transfer to The Royal.
It goes without saying that I do all I can to remain completely up to date in my specialty. While I don’t conduct research myself I make sure I am up to date with the scientific literature and spend quite a considerable amount of time attending workshops and conferences relevant to my specialty.
So Sue and I now have four grown up kids between us and some – but not all – of them have moved out. We have two cats, Jade and Felix. Sue is now a senior manager in the Victorian Health System so she is based in Melbourne. This means we spend our working weeks apart but are together for weekends and holidays. Some people might say this is the perfect way to run a marriage (we got married in 2005). I couldn’t possibly comment.
I am a lifelong fan of The Rolling Stones – I don’t think there are any other doctors with photos of Keith Richards on their walls – and have seen them live five times. I try to get some exercise and have just started tennis lessons. My other pastimes are cooking, travelling, watching movies and binge watching Netflix shows.
I give my patients my cell phone number so that they can contact me directly in the event of any significant concerns arising.
I restrict myself to 15 private births p/m to focus on the care of my individual patients before, during and after the births of their babies.
I provide a continuous personal 24 hour service and I share my weekends and holidays with Dr Natalie Shaw and Dr Justin Tucker.