Meet Dr Marcus Walker, GP and rural hospital doctor
26 April 2023
Growing up in suburban Sheffield, Dr Marcus Walker couldn’t have imagined that he’d end up practising medicine half a world away in Aotearoa New Zealand. However, he says it’s surprising how well his experiences growing up and completing his medical training in the UK have prepared him for unique challenges and opportunities rural New Zealand has to offer medical professionals.
“Anywhere you go in the world, small communities have a lot in common, and many of my placements during medical training were in small towns around the UK, so when I arrived in Invercargill to complete the rural hospital medicine and general practice training programmes in 2018 I was not fairly well prepared - I just happened to go into it and love it,” says Dr Walker
Though he gained valuable experiences from both programmes, he ended up leaning towards hospital medicine because of the variability of the work – something which better suited his personality and interests.
“You have to take holistic approaches and draw on your problem solving and interpersonal skills.
“It’s always a challenge to deploy the limited resources you have as effectively as possible, and that means the chances of boredom are pretty low.”
Although he wasn’t sure when he arrived whether he would stay in New Zealand for an extended period, he was gradually won over by the opportunity and the lifestyle that New Zealand has to offer.
“I thought for a few years about going back to the UK, and tried to think about what really makes me tick.
“New Zealand appeals to me for both personal and professional reasons – no healthcare system is perfect, but I really appreciate how much more manageable the healthcare system is here and how much I can do to support excellent health outcomes for my patients.”
Now in a permanent role at Oamaru Hospital, Marcus says he loves how tight-knit and well connected to the community the hospital staff are and the incredible support he has had from supervisors and mentors during training and beyond.
“Alan Furnace's teaching changed my whole approach to rural medicine and shaped my career.
“I also had incredible support from my education facilitator Dr Mark Smith, Dr Brendan Marshall, and Dr Paul Holt at Greymouth Hospital where I did one of my placements.”
Marcus says there’s a new CEO at Oamaru Hospital and lots of positive change taking place, so it’s an exciting time to have joined the team.
“I would encourage anyone who was contemplating a move to rural medicine to do some placements and experience it for themselves.
“You’ll have a lot of independence and get the chance to do procedures that you might not get to experience otherwise, and that can only make you a better doctor.”
“You can also have a very good work life balance in this sector - I have a contract where I’m six months on, six months off, for five years, which gives me awesome opportunities to travel and do other things that I enjoy.”
“I’d just encourage people to give it a go and see for themselves whether it’s going to be the right fit – we’re definitely always looking for doctors at Oamaru Hospital so get in touch with us if you want more information about placement opportunities!”