Leadership in the field - meet Dr Meg Wilson

16 September 2020

College Fellow Dr Meg Wilson has been our GP representative on the BreastScreen Aotearoa Advisory Group (BSAAG) since 2019 and expects to be part of the group for the next two to three years.

The group consists of multidisciplinary members including a pathologist, breast surgeon, breast nurses, mammographers, and representatives from the Ministry of Health’s National Screening Unit. Working with this broad range of professionals has helped Meg appreciate the bigger picture of breast screening implementation in Aotearoa. 

We caught up with Meg to learn more about her experiences with the group and her recommendations for members considering representative work.

BreastScreen Aotearoa is New Zealand’s free national breast screening programme for women aged between 45 and 69. Read more about it here.

What sparked your particular passion for breast screening? 

“Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer affecting women in New Zealand (aside from skin cancer). I frequently come across women who are eligible for breast screening, but not enrolled in BreastScreen Aotearoa and/or are not aware of the recommended breast screening programme in New Zealand. I am passionate about improving this service and the outreach of this service.

“On top of my usual work as a GP, I have been working part time as a Breast GPSI (general practitioner with a special interest) in Hawke’s Bay for the past three years. In this role, I predominantly see benign breast conditions - such as breast pain, benign breast lumps, and women with a strong family history of breast cancer. When the GP representative role was introduced on BSAAG I immediately applied, as I thought it would complement my other work in breast medicine. Overall, I enjoy doing this role as a contrast to GP work.”

What have been your key learnings or experiences as a GP representative? 

“This experience has opened my eyes to the work that goes on behind the scenes of screening programmes. Particularly the analysis of the statistics gathered, and how this is used to improve the programme and improve coverage, especially for high risk groups.”

Have you encountered any challenges during your time with the group?

“Due to COVID-19, the most recent meeting has been postponed and is being hosted via zoom. We all have this problem though! Other than that, I haven’t experienced any challenges yet. I have only been in this role for just over one year and have attended three meetings in person. I’m looking forward to how we progress in future.”

Do you have any advice to members interested in becoming a College representative?

“Go for it! I had previously been a GP presentative on a Maternal Morbidity Review Panel, which I found very interesting and rewarding. The representative work provides a contrast to clinical work, but still allows you to make a difference to the wider population.”

Do you have any advice for a College representative going to their first meeting?

“The meetings are typically a full day and have a lot to cover on the agenda. I would recommend getting a good coffee en route, and be prepared by reading all the material provided ahead of the meeting.”

Are there any resources from the programme or group that you’d recommend to members? 

“I would recommend the quarterly reports from BreastScreen Aotearoa, which are available for perusal here.”