Meet Anna Kang – An early inspired and enthusiastic GPEP1er

Member news
16 May 2016

It was the late Colin Murdoch, New Zealand legend and inventor of the disposable hypodermic syringe, child-proof medicine container and the tranquilliser gun, who inspired Anna to pursue medicine. I don’t think many of us can say we had mentors at age 11, but Anna did.

Anna Kang is a fresh-faced and very enthusiastic Auckland University graduate, currently in her first placement in the GPEP Year One programme, at Hutt City Health Centre in Lower Hutt.

Anna shares, “Colin became my mentor following a ‘famous New Zealander’ project I completed when I was 11 years old. Despite only having one eye that was removed due to cancer, Colin emailed and shared his life stories with me as I grew up.”

Anna tells us, “Colin once stated, ‘Observation is the key to innovation. Never stop looking and imagining what may be hidden in the obvious.’”

He even offered to be Anna’s adopted grandpa. The two clearly shared a tight bond, “He ultimately inspired me to do medicine.”

Despite Colin’s passing in 2008, Anna tells us that he continues to encourage her to keep trying new things, he would say, “Even if you fail, the success is in trying.”

Two GPs that have inspired Anna so far in her career are Dr Carl Jacobsen in Whakatane who, “Always seemed fascinated by people.” And Dr David Belfield in Gisborne who, “Generously gave 100% to patients and they often reciprocated with fresh crayfish.”

Anna wasn’t always set on general practice, “I almost veered toward emergency medicine training before applying for GPEP. The ED was exciting, being faced with undifferentiated and high-acuity patients. I enjoyed the banter and working as team with colleagues – you were never alone.”

But it was the shift-work and the lack of continuity of care that made Anna decide that general practice was right for her.

It’s clear that Anna has a passion for people, just as many others who work in general practice do, “I look forward to listening to people, and I anticipate the unknown – you never know what will walk through the door.”

A day as a GP can be tiring and Anna tells us very honestly that she has felt that, “Being a GP can be quite exhausting. It demands full attention to people, all day. I didn’t expect that. On the other hand, being a GP is very rewarding, so it does balance out.”

I asked Anna what she sees as the four different roles she’s had to play since becoming a GP registrar and she recites something that sounds quite poetic and Dr Suess-esque, “An advocate, counsellor, gatekeeper, team-player, humble teacher and not a preacher.”

A day in the life of Anna is a busy one, “I go to the gym or for a run before work, brew coffee, turn on the computer in anticipation of mailbox arrivals, see patients, eat lunch, pop out briefly for fresh air and sunshine to brighten myself, see more patients and catch up on paperwork.”

The greatest challenges in New Zealand Anna sees are increasing inequality, child poverty and obesity, “I’m passionate about changing the complex landscape behind these issues.”

As well as this, Anna is also keen to do more minor surgery and develop her dermatology and gynaecology experience.

You’ll note that I referred to Anna as very enthusiastic earlier in this piece and I’m not exaggerating. Anna is very keen to help, she answers my emails instantly and has opened up her weekends for College projects, despite being so full-on during the week.

In saying that, Anna knows how to relax, and we ask her what we’d find her doing in the weekends, “Reading the paper, visiting the Newtown markets, going for a bush walk, having a wine with something delicious, and cleaning the flat.”

Anna also enjoys running, is a keen Korean cook, plays the guitar and collects New Zealand pottery. I couldn’t not mention Anna’s impressive stats at the gym – she can squat 85kg, deadlift 95kg and bench press 35kg. This young new GP registrar can definitely pack a punch!

Anna photographed with Samantha Murton