Tuesday 15 October 2019 11:03pm
The new Head of the University's Department of General Practice and Rural Health Dr Carol Atmore.
Relevant experience is not something the University of Otago’s new Head of Department of General Practice and Rural Health is lacking.
Dr Carol Atmore, who began in the role in August, has been a medical doctor for 30 years; a chief medical officer for the West Coast DHB; an elected board member for the same DHB; is chair of Alliance South; has chaired numerous committees – including her current chairing of the South Island DHBs Alliance’s Strategic Planning and Integration Team; and is still a practising GP at a Dunedin medical centre.
She has also just submitted her PhD in General Practice and Rural Health.
Yet it’s the promise of what the future holds – and what needs doing to ensure we’re prepared for it – that is her passion, she says.
"It’s about accessing specialist input as needed, but the core is centred on the partnership between the generalist and the patient."
“People are getting older and they’re getting more complex long-term conditions. And those two things are going to put real pressure on the health system.
“So we need to meet the needs of our community, and to do that we’re going to need a much more generalist approach in the medical workforce.”
Ensuring that “generalist approach” is instilled in tomorrow’s doctors will be a significant focus of her HOD role, she says.
“It’s about taking a whole-of-person approach to someone’s health issues and having that involvement over time. It’s about accessing specialist input as needed, but the core is centred on the partnership between the generalist and the patient.”
Can that evolution of medical philosophy and training be achieved? Dr Atmore says there simply is no choice.
“It’s not rocket science, it’s not new. But it is imperative. We’re not going to be able to meet the needs of our community without it.
“We’ve got time to work out how to arrange it but we have to be thinking about it pretty soon. And that’s what I see a big part of this job will be – not just thinking about it, but acting on it. And that’s what I’m going to do.”