Dr Nina Bevin is the College’s new Board Apprentice

27 July 2020

Dr Nina Bevin (Waikato-Tainui) is the College’s new Board Apprentice. The appointment was announced by College President Dr Samantha Murton at the College’s AGM on 25 July 2020.

Dr Bevin applied for the position as a way of gaining governance skills and to receive mentoring from experienced Board members with the position complementing her long-held interest in public health. She has recently been awarded a Masters in Public Health from Yale University and is now writing a dissertation about whether District Health Boards’ Annual Plans are compliant with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

“My ambition [with further study and the Board Apprentice role] was to acquire some theoretical skills to complement my clinical experience with the view to potentially getting involved in health administrative roles,” Dr Bevin says.

“The Board Apprentice role is an opportunity that I’m very grateful for and I’d like to thank previous Boards for having the foresight to establish it.”

“The way general practice is funded needs to be reviewed to remove financial barriers to access for whom this is a problem, as well as to reflect the ever-increasing complexity of care and administrative work that GPs are being expected to do.

Dr Bevin has worked in general practice for 10 years, a speciality she said she chose ‘by accident, not design’ but one that she loves, and that fits well with her upbringing where working together and making a contribution to the community was highly valued and encouraged.

“Being a GP means I get the value of ongoing patient/whānau-doctor relationships and I can work in the community, she says.”

“The passion and wisdom of Māori GPs like Dr Paratene Ngata and Dr Tony Ruakere taught me that being a GP is more than just a job and that’s summed up for me by the College’s motto, ‘Cum Scientia Caritas’ - with knowledge, compassion.”

“I’m always inspired by my colleagues in Te Akoranga a Māui, who are constantly juggling their clinical work with College committees and other roles advocating for Māori health. And I love working with ever-changing presentations in the clinic and learning something new every day.”

Dr Bevin recently achieved her long-held goal of gaining a Masters in Public Health (MPH) at Yale, a well-timed move that worked in with family commitments. “My husband was coming to Yale (the family are currently living in New Haven, Connecticut) to do a surgical fellowship and encouraged me to apply for the MPH, which was perfect timing because it coincided with no longer having a baby at home or having to work around maternity leave.” COVID-19 likely didn’t feature in the plan as Dr Bevin now finds herself studying (writing a dissertation) and home-schooling her children because COVID-19 has closed schools in New Haven.

Dr Bevin is a high-achieving and ambitious woman who loves big-picture thinking so GP Pulse asked her what general practice should look like in 10 years’ time.

“General practice, as a leader in the primary care sector, is going to need a strong voice in any policy discussion that happens from the Health and Disability System Review. I would like to see a reorientation of the system with primary care and communities at the centre, rather than prioritising hospitals and secondary care as the current DHB system tends to do.

“While it has many strengths, New Zealand’s health system doesn’t deliver the same access or outcomes to all New Zealanders, especially Māori and in my view, a Māori Health Authority [recommended in the recent Health and Disability System Review] with funding and commissioning powers is a ‘must-have.’

“The Board Apprentice role is an opportunity that I’m very grateful for and I’d like to thank previous Boards for having the foresight to establish it.”

“Studies have shown that jurisdictions with a strong primary care sector and higher numbers of family physicians/GPs per capita achieve better health outcomes at lower cost, have lower mortality rates, fewer low birth-weight babies, better health equity, and avoid un-necessary or low-value care.

“The way general practice is funded needs to be reviewed to remove financial barriers to access for whom this is a problem, as well as to reflect the ever-increasing complexity of care and administrative work that GPs are being expected to do.

“My observation is that the 15 minute model of care just doesn’t work for some people, but without an alternative approach to funding we end up just patching up what we can, resulting in unmet need, especially when it comes to preventive care.”

Dr Bevin also believes that general practice needs to have a smaller carbon footprint in 10 years’ time, a position that reflects the College’s signing of OraTaiao’s Health Professionals Joint Call for Action on Climate Change and Health, marking a formal commitment to confronting the health effects of climate change.

Dr Bevin’s term as Board Apprentice commences on 26 July 2020 with her first Board meeting being in August. She will return to live in New Zealand in September.

Dr Bevin has a Masters in Public Health (Yale University, 2019), Post graduate Diploma in Industrial Health with Distinction (Otago University, 2010), Post graduate Diploma in Business Administration (2007), and a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (Otago University, 2004). She has been a Fellow of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners since 2011.