Rural doc on a Canadian crusade

Date published
19 Oct 2016

Long-time Wairoa GP Ron Janes will be an ambassador for New Zealand rural general practice alongside NZLocums recruiters at the Family Medicine Forum in Vancouver in November.

Dr Janes is a Canadian-trained GP who has lived in New Zealand since 1991 and has been active and influential in the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network since then.

Apart from one year working in Kaitaia and one year in Canada, Dr Janes has been based in Wairoa for 23 years.

“I have not found anywhere where I have enjoyed the work better.”

He says he wants to tell his story about working as a rural GP in this country. “I want to tell them [forum delegates] about the experience I’ve had. It’s been great, I’m not burnt out and still very excited about working and living in rural New Zealand.

“I’ve worked in five out of 10 Canadian provinces so I know their system. I trained there, have relatives and family there and go back to visit.

“I’m looking forward to the forum because we have not had a lot of Canadian doctors coming to work in this country and I will have the opportunity to talk to anyone interested in coming to New Zealand.

“While our countries have a lot in common there are also some significant differences. It’s free to see a doctor there but you might pay a bit more for your medicines. Co-payments as found in the New Zealand system disappeared in Canada about 20 years ago. ACC is unique to New Zealand. Insurance and the potential for malpractice cases is a possibility in Canada whereas New Zealand is probably one of the least litigious countries in the world.

“Canadians are very proud of their free health care including hospital care. There is no private approach to health care. You have to go to the US for that. I want to talk to them about these sorts of things.”

Dr Janes says he is often asked why he chose New Zealand? “There’s five months of winter in Canada and the flies in the woods; they’ll pick you up and carry you off in spring.”

Dr Janes has attended every Network conference – held annually – except one, since 1991. He missed the inaugural event in 1990. He was a Network Board member during the 1990s, was also the Royal New Zealand College of GPs rural representative on the Network Board and was instrumental in research about rural General Practice and demonstrated the severe issues in getting locums to work in rural New Zealand.

"I believe my research was very helpful in making the case for the need for NZLocums."

He is still involved in rural research and has operated a teaching practice for the past 15 years.

Dr Janes has also been involved in research involving rural hospitals, which incidentally cater for between 20 and 24 percent of the county’s population, he says.

He was the inaugural winner of the Peter Snow Memorial Award in 2007, set up to honour the life and work of Dr Peter Snow who passed away in March 2006.  Dr Snow was a rural general practitioner based in Tapanui.

NZLocums Team Leader Jacinta Sanders says the idea that Dr Janes be an ambassador at the conference came from a visit to Wairoa by Network Chief Executive Dalton Kelly. The Vancouver forum was discussed and Dr Janes offered to attend it on the back of a trip home to visit family.

“This is the first time a formal ambassador has been part of a conference recruitment drive although we have had GPs, who have worked in New Zealand, come up to our stand and say ‘great to see you here, we’d be happy to speak to GPs if they want to know more about working in New Zealand’.

“Ron is super excited and I am keen to see how it works. It’ll be good to have someone there who knows about working as a GP in rural New Zealand with hands-on advice and knowledge of how things operate.”

Jacinta says that in the past there has been a lot interest from Canadian doctors to come to New Zealand but that has not transferred into actual placements. I think there’s a lot of potential here because New Zealand is very similar to Canada in a rural health way.”

Dr Janes’ daughter Megan is a junior doctor and will be a delegate at the forum at the Vancouver Convention Centre, British Columbia, Canada from November 9 to 12.