‘Itchy feet’ doctor finds firm ground
‘‘I grew up in Dublin and as well as training there I worked as in intern 100 hours plus a week. I didn't have much of a life outside of work.’’
Doctor Gillian Kearon only meant to be in New Zealand for a year.
But not only has the 34-year-old general practitioner been living in the country for 10 years, the past 10 months in Cromwell, she became a citizen in December.
The Dublin-born GP moved to Cromwell in February with her partner and his two children, after getting ‘‘itchy feet’’.
‘‘Central Otago is awesome. When you come as a foreigner to New Zealand you hear about particular places attractive to live in. Nelson is on that list, and so is Central Otago.
‘‘When I lived in Nelson, I used to come to Queenstown to go skiing and take adventures to Central Otago and loved it. My part- ner is Irish and has two sons at Cromwell College and just finished a stonemason’s course. He became a citizen in 2012. It was a logical next step to become a citizen. I am just so lucky. I suppose it doesn’t make much difference, but it is an honour and a privilege. It’s nice.’’
She worked at Junction Health in Cromwell - which was vastly different to work back in Ireland.
‘‘I grew up in Dublin and as well as training there I worked as in intern 100 hours plus a week. I didn’t have much of a life outside of work.
‘‘I contacted a friend in New Zealand who is also a doctor who said, ‘I only work 50 hours a week’. I only planned to come for a year but I loved it. New Zealand has been so welcoming and it is an absolute pleasure to work here. The summers are great too. I like the heat. It’s just a great outdoors life and nice healthy environment for the kids. I also like the proximity to Wanaka and Queenstown.
‘‘In Ireland it seems like a rat race. I always get itchy feet and worked as a GP locum moving around a lot. It’s nice to be in a job that is more permanent.’’
New Zealand’s health system, despite it’s flaws, was ‘‘quite fair’’.
‘‘In Ireland there is a huge divide between people who pay nothing and people who pay huge amounts for health care. Everyone in Ireland has to have health insurance. The public health system does look after people pretty well here.’’
The biggest challenge in Central Otago was access, because it was so far from Dunedin, she said.
‘‘As a rural GP in Cromwell I deal with a lot more than an urban GP - which is why I like living in Cromwell, because of those challenges.’’
She had mixed opinions about the after-hours GP service in Central Otago - the service involving Cromwell, Alexandra and Roxburgh that started in 2015.
‘‘It is good for everyone else except Cromwell because of the proximity. We are based in Clyde which is clearly not in the middle (of Alexandra and Cromwell).
‘‘Alexandra is a more of a hub of more qualified people...There is no emergency department here so GPs and ambulance have to work closely together.’’
Doctor Gillian Kearon, who hails from Ireland, has made Cromwell her home.