GP Paul Stephens will retire this month, after starting the practice in 1977 alongside Dr Jim and June Fisk. From there Dr McCullough joined the practice and together with dentist Dr Rickman they built the current premises on Apha Street. Along the way they've been joined by the current GPs David Smylie, Clare Hamilton and John Russell, growing to the 11 GP, 11,000 patient practice that it is today.
Paul says he will miss the academic challenge of continually learning something new and the social interaction he has with the team - and of course his patients who have been flocking in over the last month to have one last visit. "It's been humbling really. No one has been particularly unwell, they just wanted to come in and see me one last time. There's been lots of thoughtful cards, baking and gifts," says Paul. "After all these years they're not just patients, they're friends too."
As far as retirement goes, Paul is keeping his registration up for the time being and is open to helping out the practice to cover leave. But outside of this Paul has big plans to indulge in his active lifestyle, including snowboarding, kite surfing, running, walking the dog and maybe even getting back into golf. "I've got a season pass for the mountain and I plan to get good mileage out of it this year!"
Like many retiring GPs Paul has seen a lot of change over the years, increased paperwork easily springs to mind. But he values the way technology is helping general practice - particularly the ability to electronically access patient records, lab results and x-rays and thinks it will be exciting to see how these advances will continue to help coordinate care across providers.
Paul plans to remain in Cambridge, but will be enjoying a bit more time in his Wanaka holiday home. Bring on the snow!