The fact that the executive team of the Northland Faculty bring a box of beers and a curry to their meetings gives you some idea of the importance they put on collegiality.
“Bringing people together is what we’re all about,” says Chair Tanya Quin emphatically.
“Once you get that conversation going, you discover your joint purpose and then you can start working out what action you are going to take.
“Getting our people together can be the tricky bit, given the geography around here.”
But, thanks to a former Faculty member, the wonders of the internet is helping to make that a little bit easier.
“GP Sam Gingrich now lives in Hawaii, but still takes an interest in what we’re up to,” says Tanya. “He kindly donated some money to the Faculty, which we used to purchase a Zoom account. It means people can get together to share concerns, worries and solutions easily.”
“Our door is wide open for young GPs wanting to join and be supported as they learn what it’s like in a governance role."
Allowing time to network is also a key consideration for Tanya when organising the Faculty’s annual conference, which this year took place in the beautiful Bay of Islands town of Russell.
“Lots of conferences are about speakers and workshops, which are all very interesting and provide those opportunities for professional development and learning,” says Tanya. “But for me the really important thing about conferences is that everyone is in one place, together – they need time to talk and many of the issues and hurdles we deal with can be solved.
“It’s important doctors can share their experiences and empathise with others – it can be a lonely occupation at times and forging those connections with your fellow GPs is so, so important. Not much small talk goes on because everyone knows that the person you are talking to has had the same experiences as you, so you can get down to the nuts and bolts of things straightaway.”
Tanya was born and bred in Northland but had no intentions of staying and working there. After completing her training at Auckland Hospital, she spent time overseas gaining experience in many different areas including hospice work and drug and alcohol addiction, before following a natural path into general practice that brought her back home.
She is keen to promote the opportunities the Faculty executive team can offer new members wanting to gain leadership experience.
“Our door is wide open for young GPs wanting to join and be supported as they learn what it’s like in a governance role,” she explains. “We support anyone wishing to take on the role of chair by sending them on a leadership course to make sure they have the skills they will need. New blood is always welcome!”
“Bringing people together is what we’re all about.”
Not one to pull any punches, Tanya is very clear that the Faculties are what makes the College what it is, not the other way around.
“I’m a big believer that discussions and perspectives should come from the bottom up,” she says. “The College is there to represent us, to be the connection between the bureaucrats and those on the frontline.
She gives those attending GP21: The Conference for General Practice next month a heads-up to look out for some bright orange mugs bearing the legend ‘Faculties First’ – they are bold and proud, a bit like Tanya herself.