2017 Board nominee - Dr Melissa Gilbert-Smith 

College news

Tena kotou, ko Melissa Gilbert-Smith toku ingoa. 

I am a GP in Northland and have been involved in governance for the past 4 years in the arts, education and most recently health, joining the Manaia PHO board a year or so ago. I have recently been appointed to GP liaison at Whangarei Hospital and am really excited about this new challenge that will begin next month. I hold an RMO position at North Haven Hospice where I have worked varying tenths for the last 8 or so years and intend to keep doing this work. I have worked in many general practices in Northland, have been a rest home/private hospital medical officer for 3 years and I also ran a GP clinic for a drug and alcohol residential rehab programme.

I have been nominated (well I asked my colleagues to nominate me) for the college board and as this is my third attempt to become involved in college governance I think my level of enthusiasm for the role is clear. I missed out on the free governance training that the college offered and I also missed out on the board apprentice position but I’m not one to let a knock back diminish my determination so here I am.

I live in Whangarei with my wife Karen and two of my three daughters, Finn and Sophie. My eldest daughter Kaitlin is completing a BA at Auckland University this year in philosophy and geography. We live as healthfully as I know how, growing a lot of our own fruit and vegetables, treating our chooks well so they’ll lay us eggs that taste like the chooks have had a good life. I volunteer at Periaweri Marae Community Garden and am involved with establishing a food policy network here in Northland because I believe good (in every sense of the word) kai is central to good health.

I trained in medicine within an illness-focused model and there is an increasing awareness that there are not the resources going forward to sustain this. I want to be part of teams that are working hard to find solutions and alternative models of care. It is my firm belief that shifting from an illness-focused model to a wellness-focused model is central to that solution. I see wellness hubs in the form of marae based community gardens as the first step in that journey. Clearly education and research is key to all of this hence my strong desire to be on the college governance board. 

It is also my belief that the solutions to our current overstretched, under resourced health system are going to come from Primary Health. This was evident within some of the research that was presented at the last college conference. A conference I left feeling reinvigorated for medicine and proud to be a GP, it was the most informative, forward thinking conference that I had been to in a long time. I knew then it was an organization that I wanted to have a chance to add value to.

Dr Melissa Gilbert-Smith