Dr Hannah Lawn is a country girl through and through. She’s also the epitome of a ‘local kid done good’.
She was born in Hāwera Hospital to a farming family and, having trained as a doctor, she has now returned to Taranaki with her own family to do rural hospital medicine in the place she was born.
We asked Hannah what she enjoys most about rural medicine, and her enthusiasm was immediately obvious:
“Initially I wasn’t sure what specialty to settle on after medical school – I enjoyed all aspects of my training – but I decided to try the Rural Medical Immersion Programme and as soon as I started, I knew I’d found my niche.
“I was part of the first cohort to do the RMIP in the Wairarapa. I found I really enjoyed the hands-on learning and the ‘get stuck in’ approach required in rural medicine. That’s the rural way of doing things, and it works well for me.
“In fact, I found it quite hard going back into a big urban hospital setting after that. Being ‘just another student’ and a little cog amongst a lot of big, big wheels wasn’t particularly satisfying.”
After training stints in New Plymouth, Waikato and Thames, Hannah is just one paper away from obtaining Fellowship of the Division of Rural Hospital Medicine. She is now permanently based at Hāwera Hospital, and she acknowledges the work of Clinical Lead, Dr Emma Davey, in building the hospital’s capacity and workforce.
“I have been very lucky to train under Emma as a registrar. We’ve got a great team here – one where we all appreciate our other team members’ strengths and specialties. Everyone has a role to play, and we work well together to ensure the best outcome for our patients.
“That’s the thing about rural medicine, you can’t just ring a bell for back-up – we are the back-up! We rely on our workmates and they rely on us – it’s a very inclusive and rewarding work environment.
“I particularly like the range of activities we do – there’s so much variety when you’re working in a small hospital. I do emergency department work, palliative care, medical ward rounds and I also mentor medical students. We see a wide range of patients – and every day is different.”
Hannah and her husband are committed to the area. They’ve bought into a dairy farm, and they have a young son, who experiencing the same type of rural upbringing Hannah had.
“We live in a beautiful part of the country – we have a mountain and beaches on our doorstep, there’s so much to do outdoors here. I think it’s the perfect place to be a Kiwi kid.”