Sitting in a GP clinic with tears in her eyes proved to be a seminal moment for Tina Chiang, as a young medical student.

The surgery belonged to well-known Kapiti Coast GP, Dr Chris Lane, and Tina was spending time with him as part of her third year clinical exposure.

“I was sitting in the corner listening to the consults and I had tears in my eyes. I felt it was such a privilege to be part of that patient experience,”she says. “It was really from that point on that I decided I wanted to do general practice.”

Tina went on to be selected to be part of the Rural Medical Immersion Programme in the fifth year of her undergraduate studies, based in the Wairarapa.

The programme gave participants the opportunity to gain more clinical experience, with time divided evenly between the various specialties in a hospital setting and several GP practices.

After graduating from medical school at Otago University in 2014, Tina opted to spend three years working in clinical rotations at the four main Auckland Hospitals, gaining a Diploma in Paediatrics as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in Woman’s Health.  She then joined the College’s GP Education Programme.

“It was such a wonderful programme with great teachers and educational supervisors,” she says. “The year of seeing patients independently gives you such a good foundation. I feel it gave me a sound coverage of various conditions, which has been invaluable for my current work.”

“I was sitting in the corner listening to the consults and I had tears in my eyes. I felt it was such a privilege to be part of that patient experience,”she says. “It was really from that point on that I decided I wanted to do general practice.”

Tina is now completing GPEP2 working four days a week at Manly Medical Centre in Whangaparaoa on the Hibiscus Coast.

“I did half my GPEP1 placement here and just stayed on because I liked it so much,” she says. “Because of that, the patients are getting used to me and it’s been easier to build rapport and develop that professional relationship.”

Born in Taiwan, Tina moved to New Zealand with her family aged five and grew up on the North Shore. Although she comes from a very large family (she has 19 cousins!), Tina has been the only one to choose medicine as a vocation, and she is expanding her horizons from purely treating patients.

The GP registrar is currently involved with the Auckland Faculty, welcoming the opportunity to see what else there could be to being a GP.

“I am enjoying seeing what’s involved in taking on a governance role, and appreciate having discussions with great GP leaders and learning from them,” she says. “I think that if you really want to see a difference in the way things are done, it’s good to get involved in clinical governance, or a leadership role, so you can make a change.”