Thursday, 09 May 2024 07:55

Rural GP's inspiring legacy

Written by  Leo Argent
Peter Snow Memorial Awards 2023 winner, Rhoena Davis (left) and 2024 winner Kyle Eggleton at the recent National Rural Health Conference. Peter Snow Memorial Awards 2023 winner, Rhoena Davis (left) and 2024 winner Kyle Eggleton at the recent National Rural Health Conference.

The legacy of Dr Peter Snow continues to inspire as the recipients of the 2023 and 2024 Peter Snow Memorial Awards were announced at the recent National Rural Health Conference.

Rhoena Davis was honoured with the Peter Snow Memorial Award for 2023 for her exemplary service to Māori health, rural healthcare delivery and nursing leadership.

As chair of the Māori caucus of the College of Nurses Aotearoa and a member of the New Zealand Nursing Council Komiti Māori, Davis has played a pivotal role in shaping nursing leadership and advocating for Māori health at local, regional, and national levels.

Her advocacy for funding and policy changes to support Nurse Practitioners and working tirelessly to address inequities in healthcare delivery, particularly in rural and remote areas, has made her a highly respected figure within the medical community.

Davis is involved in various national groups, including the National Nurse Leaders Group, Ora Taiao, and the Federation of Primary Health Care.

Beyond nursing organisations, Davis sits on the Hauora Taiwhenua Board as deputy chair, where her expertise has been influential in shaping the organisation's foundation. She has also been part of initiatives aimed at actualising the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi through her position as deputy chair of Te Ropu Arahi.

Kyle Eggleton was announced as the recipient of the 2024 Peter Snow Memorial Award, with his contributions reflecting a persistent commitment to improving healthcare access and outcomes for rural communities, embodying the spirit of service and leadership in the healthcare sector.

After graduating with a medical degree from the University of Auckland, Eggleton returned to Northland to work as a rural GP, driven by a deep understanding of the impacts of rurality and social deprivation on community health.

His commitment to addressing these disparities led him to join a Māori health provider where he spearheaded community-led projects focused on improving health equity.

Eventually becoming the Associate Dean (Rural) at Auckland University, Eggleton's clinical practice informs his academic roles as a teacher for medical and health students and as a researcher leading medical education and rural health projects.

Through this role, Eggleton's achievements include establishing a rural stream for medical students and implementing admission schemes to professional health programs for rural-origin students. His dedication to rural healthcare extends to desigining curricula and interprofessional programs aimed at enhancing healthcare delivery in underserved areas.

The awards were set up to honour the life and work of Tapanui based rural general practitioner Snow, who passed away in March 2006. Influential for raising safety awareness on farming related accidents and contributing to the identification of chronic fatigue syndrome in New Zealand, he was also president of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and a member of the Otago Hospital Board and District Health Board.

Hauora Taiwhenua chair Dr Fiona Bolden said that they were delighted to recognise Eggleton and Davis for their 'exceptional' contributions to rural health.

"Through their remarkable impacts, Rhoena and Kyle have demonstrated that dedication knows no bounds when it comes to serving rural communities. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to them both."

Despite there being no Conference in 2023 following the disruption of Covid, the decision was made to honour the work of nominees during that time.

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