Sent to find three cans of tartan paint, or to borrow a left-handed screwdriver, is often the unfortunate lot for a young apprentice, but things are very different at the College.

Becoming the College Board Apprentice provides an opportunity to gain valuable governance experience, develop insight and perspective, and build on existing skills.

Dr Nina Bevin (Waikato-Tainui) has held the role for the last year, and says the experience was a positive one that gave her a new-found appreciation of the complexity and scope of work a Board needs to cover.

“Like most other GPs, my previous interactions with the College were my years as a GP registrar and keeping my CPD up-to-date. The board apprentice role gave me insight into the complexities and work involved in keeping the College running so it can best achieve its purpose and serve its members,” says Nina.

“I have gained a real appreciation for the hard work of College staff who keep the organisation running from day-to-day, and feel very grateful for the opportunity.”

Nina was appointed to the role in July 2020, after applying as a way of gaining governance skills to complement her clinical experience and long-held interest in public health. 

She joined the Board as an apprentice having recently been awarded a Masters in Public Health from Yale University, and completing a dissertation analysing whether District Health Boards’ Annual Plans comply with Te Tiriti o Waitangi. She is currently an advanced trainee in Public Health Medicine. 

“The whole year has been highly beneficial for gaining the skills I need to pursue my goals and ambitions as my general practice career progresses."

A practising GP for more than a decade and a Fellow of the College since 2011, Nina also holds postgraduate diplomas in in Industrial Health (University of Otago, 2009) and Business Administration (Massey University 2007).

Her passion and interest in public health was sparked as a young GP observing the inequalities faced by her patients as she worked in different areas of the country.

“Our health system does not deliver the same level of care to all New Zealanders, with Māori in particular experiencing inequity in terms of access and outcomes.

“In my view, reorienting the health system so that the aspirations of patients, whānau and communities are placed at the centre is a promising step towards achieving health equity, and aligns with the core principles of the discipline of general practice.”

She says the progress the College has made this year with its Māori Strategy has been gratifying and that equity of care is something that is now uppermost in all discussions and debates.

Her year as the Board Apprentice also meant she had a chance to observe the College’s response to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The board apprentice role gave me insight into the complexities and work involved in keeping the College running so it can best achieve its purpose and serve its members.” 

“The speed and agility of the response needed from the College, and the level of pressure we saw on our GPs over a sustained period of time is unprecedented.“ she says.

“It was so valuable for me to see how it was handled at Board level and be part of the discussions and decision-making process.

“The whole year has been highly beneficial for gaining the skills I need to pursue my goals and ambitions as my general practice career progresses.

“In my experience it has been a fantastic way to gain governance experience, and I would encourage anyone who in interested in developing their skills in this area to apply and take advantage of this unique opportunity."