Meet Alice Tait-Jamieson – Self-proclaimed GP “geek”, super-mum and netballer

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We start Alice’s interview with the well warranted but also clichéd question – ‘Why did you decide to become a GP?’ Her answer was nothing short of honest and down-to-earth, and we wouldn’t expect anything less from Dr Tait-Jamieson.

“To be honest I decided at 3am when I was awake breastfeeding and trying to decide what to do with my life.” While Alice did have aspirations to be a surgeon, she also had two children under two at the time.

“I felt like for me I would end up having to compromise on either my standards as a surgeon or my standards as a mother and I didn’t want to do either of those.”

General practice is a career pathway that offers a work-life balance and actually having it, “not just talking about it,” as Alice points out.

As well as that though, it is a career where you can tailor it to suit your own strengths and interests, Alice tells us. “I'm able to incorporate many of the things I liked most about being a doctor in the hospital without having to bring along many of the things which didn't sit well with me,” she adds.

Alice tells us that there are so many things she looks forward to each day, “Because I'm a total geek I look forward to getting in and checking my inbox to see the results of investigations I've ordered or check up on patients in hospital.”

At this point, we have to brag on behalf of Alice, she referred to herself as a geek and perhaps this is what landed her the award for the top candidate in the 2014 GPEP Clinical and Written Examinations.

It’s clear to see that Alice has a genuine passion for general practice and for people. “I look forward to the rush of being in a good flow, maintaining a reasonable degree of timing whilst still allowing for emotions and life to be present in the consultations.”

In her day-to-day role, Alice tells us as well as playing her role as a GP she is also an advocate, confidant, marriage counsellor and cheerleader to her patients.

We also consider Alice a bit of a comedian after the time we’ve spent with her, “I look forward to drinking a cup of tea without it being spilled on me, being able to go to the toilet unaccompanied and not having to negotiate with toddlers over their socks and shoes.”

Inside of general practice Alice is particularly interested in musculoskeletal medicine, women’s health, medical teaching and immigrant medicine because of the area she practises.

Outside of general practice you’ll find Alice on the netball court, sweating it out at hot yoga, and training for Iron Maori. And that’s just sports wise.

She’s also a foodie, traveller, weekend adventurer to tire the kids out and to add to that she’s “awesome at Duplo”. That’s giant Lego if you didn’t know. Her guilty pleasure is binge-watching TV series with her husband whom she works on house renos and restorations with in the weekend.

Alice is very grateful for the people around her; “My husband backs me on anything I set my mind to and dedicates himself to helping me achieve my goals.”

Her friend Dr Maraina Smith has provided Alice with “a wealth of sound and informed advice” on childbearing and GP training too.

Alice belongs to Ngati Tukorehe a small but strong iwi based between Levin and Otaki. Their vision is Ka whitingia te ra ki nga uri o Tukorehe which translates to Ngati Tukorehe descendants succeeding in the present and the future.

Alice tells us about the sense of community she felt during her career to becoming a GP, which started at the University of Otago. “I’m grateful for the amazing group of Maori doctors who have encouraged and stood with me my entire way through med school, house surgeon years and GPEP training.”

She thanks her “amazing, insightful and inspiring” GP teachers; Dr Debbie Chitty, Dr Sean Hanna, Dr Annie Judkins, Dr Chris Wright and the late Dr Jane Burrell.

“I feel like I've never been as well supported, both academically and emotionally, by my teachers than by those I've encountered in the GP training.”

With an interest in medical teaching herself, we are quietly confident Alice with follow in the footsteps of the greats around her.