Otago Daily Times

Made GP spe­cialty recog­nised op­tion

- RICHARD PEARS College · Higher Education · Wanaka · Southland Region · Christchurch · University of Otago · Otago Region · Dunedin · Invercargill · Edinburgh · United Kingdom · New Zealand · Canterbury · Merck & Co · United States of America · Riyadh · Saudi Arabia · Riyadh Province · Centre · Lumsden · Tuatapere

GP, aca­demic

RICHARD PEARS was a com­pas­sion­ate doc­tor and a keen ad­vo­cate for the place of the gen­eral prac­tice in medicine.

He died in Wanaka on Septem­ber 18, aged 88.

Richard Keith Pears, the mid­dle son of Doris and James Pears, was born on June 26, 1932 at the Lums­den Ma­ter­nity Hos­pi­tal. He had an elder brother, Ken­neth, and a younger brother, Rob.

The Pears fam­ily lived on a sheep sta­tion called Dun­robin Val­ley in the shadow of the Tak­itimu Moun­tains in northern South­land. Richard at­tended school lo­cally un­til he was 11 then headed to Cathe­dral Gram­mar, fol­lowed by Christ’s Col­lege, in Christchur­ch. Home vis­its were few and far be­tween.

Otago Uni­ver­sity fol­lowed in Dunedin, where he boarded at Sel­wyn Col­lege and gained en­trance to Med­i­cal School, grad­u­at­ing in 1956.

He was mar­ried to Betty Wat­ters at the same time and so started a very sig­nif­i­cant and sup­port­ive part­ner­ship over 62 years. Betty, who died in Jan­uary 2019, was the daugh­ter of Dr Wat­ters, in Gore, Richard even­tu­ally tak­ing over his prac­tice.

This, how­ever, was not be­fore he had com­pleted his res­i­dency years in In­ver­cargill and Christchur­ch, and trav­elled over­seas to the Ed­in­burgh Royal In­fir­mary, where he com­pleted his Diploma in Anaes­thet­ics. He also gained his Diploma in Ob­stet­rics while in the United King­dom.

Richard had pre­pared him­self well for work as a GP in a coun­try town where there was a lo­cal hos­pi­tal with a res­i­dent sur­geon need­ing help with anaes­the­sia, and a large ob­stet­ric prac­tice.

He was at first prac­tis­ing from home but he did not ac­cept this as ideal, es­pe­cially for the fam­ily and also if a model of team­work and col­league­ship was to be es­tab­lished in GP prac­tice, where af­ter­hours work could be ros­tered and skills shared within a team re­la­tion­ship.

To this end, the Gore Med­i­cal Cen­tre was opened in the late 1960s, the first med­i­cal cen­tre in New Zealand. It be­came the van­guard for other very sin­gu­lar ini­tia­tives in gen­eral prac­tice through­out the coun­try.

The most sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment was that of pi­o­neer­ing a training pro­gramme for gen­eral prac­ti­tion­ers, a re­mark­able and al­most con­tro­ver­sial ini­tia­tive in those days, and done in tan­dem with and fol­low­ing the ini­tia­tive of the renowned Dr Eric Elder, of Tu­at­a­pere.

Their the­sis was that gen­eral prac­tice was as much a spe­cialty as any other med­i­cal dis­ci­pline and that “sort­ing out the mud­dle in your head and find­ing a new way of work­ing was the essence of re­ori­en­tat­ing hos­pi­tal­trained GPs”.

The South­land ven­ture stim­u­lated ac­tiv­ity through­out the rest of the coun­try.

Richard was one of the ear­li­est “host” gen­eral prac­ti­tion­ers. This was a huge un­der­tak­ing, not only in the host­ing, but in con­vinc­ing the Royal New Zealand Col­lege of GPs to come on board and help with the im­mense amount of aca­demic ini­tia­tive and as­so­ci­ated re­search needed in set­ting up a path to fel­low­ship.

That in­cluded ex­am­i­na­tions, in par­al­lel with con­sis­tent and reg­u­lar re­views over time for GP reg­is­trars at­tached to prac­tices like the Gore Med­i­cal Cen­tre.

Richard di­rected the South­land scheme un­til 1980 then moved to Christchur­ch, where he was the Can­ter­bury re­gional director un­til he re­tired in 1996.

Look­ing back, these times were a ‘‘fer­ment’’, coming out of South­land ‘‘of all places’’. In­deed, it was the ex­plo­sion of gen­eral prac­tice into a spe­cialty.

There were lots of bu­reau­cratic hur­dles, and some quite rough spots in the late ’70s and early ’80s. It was even­tu­ally picked up by the uni­ver­si­ties and be­came a pro­gramme of qual­ity, re­named the Fam­ily Medicine Training Pro­gramme.

Richard was granted an MSD (Merck & Co) fel­low­ship to the United States in 1977 to fur­ther his stud­ies in this area. Even when close to re­tire­ment, he helped set up a fam­ily medicine pro­gramme in Riyadh, Saudi Ara­bia.

As if that was not enough, Richard was one of the in­di­vid­u­als who ini­ti­ated the con­cept of the Gore and District Coun­selling Cen­tre, a cre­ative and much needed re­sponse to the men­tal health needs of the east­ern/northern South­land and West Otago com­mu­ni­ties.

Open­ing in 1977, the cen­tre con­tin­ues to suc­cess­fully pro­vide coun­selling, psy­chother­apy, su­per­vi­sion and men­tal health education.

Richard was a com­pas­sion­ate man, who loved and sup­ported Betty fully.

He was a great lis­tener, ac­cord­ing to his chil­dren (and his col­leagues) with a lot of per­sonal and spir­i­tual depth. He had great pa­tience, was sel­dom an­gry, and his judge­ment well con­sid­ered.

He was a lay canon in the Christchur­ch Cathe­dral.

He loved the hills and the fam­ily’s hut up the North Etal Creek on the Dun­robin Val­ley es­tate — a wild but wel­com­ing place with snow on the river flats in win­ter and the warm nor­west­ers in sum­mer. He loved wandering, stick in hand.

Richard is sur­vived by his younger brother, Rob, his daugh­ters, Re­becca and Anna, and sons An­drew and Richard.

— Sup­plied

 ?? PHOTO: SUP­PLIED ?? Richard Pears.
PHOTO: SUP­PLIED Richard Pears.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand