Lifelong commitment to teaching leads to Queen’s Birthday Honour for College President

7 June 2021 


By Simone White, Senior Communications Advisor 

Congratulations are in order for our College President Dr Samantha Murton, who has been appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honour. Dr Murton was recognised for her services to medical education, particularly general practice.

“I was delighted, and a little bit shocked, when I found out I was receiving this honour. No one comes into this profession to win awards, we do it to make a difference to the lives of those in our communities, but it is a privilege to accept it. 

I’d also like to say congratulations to the other recipients in this year’s Queens Birthday Honour list, especially those working in general practice.” 

Lynne Hayman the College’s CEO and the nominator for Sam’s award, says, “At the College we say GPs are the heart of the community, and that is an attitude that Sam wholeheartedly embraces.”

Sam started in general practice when her third child was just a baby. Looking back, she says, “My daughter used to come to the practice with me and she spent the first six weeks of her life under the table in my consult room. I’ve always worked in a practice where female doctors were running off and having kids. It’s fantastic.”

As soon as she qualified, Sam became a GP teacher, and this is where her passion for teaching and passing on knowledge began. 

“As GPs we deliver amazing services and do a huge job. That needs to be valued. As a collective group of 5,500 professionals we can have a positive voice. The health system would fail if general practice wasn’t around.”

Currently, Sam is a Senior Lecturer and the Trainee Intern Co-Convenor for medical students at the Wellington campus of the University of Otago. She looks after 110 students each year, coordinating their six-week general practice intern placement while they are in their final year. 

“It’s great working with the new generation of doctors coming through and I love the opportunity to introduce them to general practice and promote it as a career choice.”

She is also a trustee, medical director and a working GP at Wellington’s high-needs Capital Care Health Centre.

Sam also has a fascination for the use of art in medicine – using drawings as a way of simplifying complex medical information for patients. She says when she’s trying to explain something, she instantly reaches for a pen and paper.

“I’ve always had an interest in art, and always found myself using drawings to explain anatomy, symptoms and treatments to help my patients understand their conditions. If we can help our patients to better understand what’s going on, they’re more likely to follow treatment plans.

“My daughter used to come to the practice with me and she spent the first six weeks of her life under the table in my consult room. I’ve always worked in a practice where female doctors were running off and having kids. It’s fantastic.”

In 2015, she published her book, Minor Surgery: A Visual Guide for Office-Based Surgery from Beginner to Expert. The book is based on her 14 years of working in the Hutt Valley Plastic Surgery Unit. The book is filled with Sam’s own watercolour illustrations of procedures. 

In her role as College President, Sam calls herself a loud advocate for members, the profession and for the services that are provided. 

 

“As GPs we deliver amazing services and do a huge job. That needs to be valued. As a collective group of 5,500 professionals we can have a positive voice. The health system would fail if general practice wasn’t around.”