Rural hospital doctor puts down roots in Taranaki
By College staff writer
22 November 2022
Each region of Aotearoa New Zealand has its own unique character and history and that is part of the journey of discovery that registrars go on when they complete placements at practices and hospitals in rural centres. Some spots are so special that they draw people back.
That’s how Dr Marek Lang felt about Taranaki after he’d completed his placement at Hawera Hospital in 2020, and it was part of what drew him back there late last year into a permanent position.
“Most members of the team at Hawera Hospital ended up here after completing placements because they love the culture and community so much – we’re extremely tight-knit and that’s something I really value,” Marek says.
The challenge of rural medicine is another big drawcard.
“I think many people go into rural medicine because they love the variety and challenge it offers and I was no different,” Marek says.
“Some might assume that rural medicine is going to be a watered-down version of the medicine you practise in bigger cities, but I’ve found the opposite to be true.
“In rural healthcare you have to take initiative and deal with the issues facing your patient, and that requires you to have a broad skill-set, but also to work collaboratively across the healthcare system to help remove some of the barriers to accessing care.
“In an inner-city emergency department you don’t often get involved in things like diabetes screening and treatment, but that’s the kind of thing we deal with on the daily here because it’s better for the patients if we try to do as much on the spot as we can.”
“It’s clear that for many rural patients, getting to appointments can be a challenge because of work and family commitments or access to transport, so we do the best we can to offer flexibility and support.”
Personally, Marek is thrilled to be settling and putting down roots in a region that is a good fit for his young family, who live in New Plymouth, just under an hour’s drive from Hawera.
“Each day I leave work feeling satisfied with what I’ve achieved and like I’m making an impact, and although the additional travel time can be a little tricky to balance with a young family at home, I think our current lifestyle allows us to have the best of both worlds.
“New Plymouth is a great place to raise kids, with a lot to offer in terms of environment, culture and housing affordability. As a rural hospital, Hawera offers me the kind of professional opportunities I’ve always wanted, so I’m very happy here.”
Marek encourages any registrars interested in rural medicine to get in touch.
“Our team would really welcome anyone who is interested in joining on us on a placement to reach out – I know we could offer a really fantastic experience of what rural medicine is all about here.”