Dr Ruth Barnett

I grew up in rural Otago and Southland. My Mum and Dad were Teachers and my sister and I moved fairly often in our childhood. I was lucky to grow up in the country and get a real feeling for what farming and small community life is like.

I went to high school in Gore in the 1970’s and ended up doing sciences as my Teachers said this was where the jobs were! They were right. I ended up doing Medicine and I am so lucky to have found work that I love. I trained here in Dunedin and in the 1980’s worked at Palmerston North Hospital for two years while my husband was at Teachers College. I then worked as Paediatric Registrar at Waikato Hospital and did my Diploma in Child Health as well as my Diploma in Obstetrics there. After doing my initial training to be a GP in Hamilton we went to Britain in the early 1990’s where I worked with older people and did my Diploma in Geriatric Medicine.

We came back to Dunedin in 1993 and I started work in General Practice at Port Chalmers. I was there for eight years before I accepted an invitation to work at Broadway. Leaving the close community of Port Chalmers for the more widespread community of Broadway was a big decision to make but I am pleased to be a part of the supportive Broadway family that has been part of so many Dunedin families for so many generations.

I have always been interested in teaching and enjoy having students in my practice. In 2008 I started teaching 2nd year medical students as part of the Healthcare in the Community course. I now have a permanent part time position as Professional Practice Fellow at the University of Otago. Teaching is great! I am always learning from my patients and my students and it is great to be able to share what I am learning.

I love being part of a community and have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the work I have done on School Boards, with Scouting and on medical committees. I also enjoy being outside and feeling the ground under my feet. I love a good book and a good talk and I have a goal to complete a Bachelor of Arts one day.

I am a family person and could not do what I do without the love of my husband, my children, my parents, my sister and her family and my husband’s family. They all give me so much.

In 2012 I thought I was getting old as I was getting tired easily. It turned out that I had a benign brain tumour, and I had successful surgery for that in September 2012. Through this time of illness I have been wrapped in a rug of love and support from everyone at Broadway, patients, my medical team, university colleagues, friends and my family. Thank you everyone. I no longer feel old! I am pleased to say my brain still works, but the tiredness means I have to pace myself. I have been reminded how rich life can be and I know that for me being a Doctor is an important part of that rich life. My personal challenge is to continue to do the work I love while making time for the wider world, which enriches my life and gives me strength.

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