Women in medicine converge on capital

Women in Medicine is a global movement. The New Zealand arm began in 2018, starting out as a private Facebook group.

The Kiwi contingent of about 5,000 female doctors, either in training or fully qualified, work across all disciplines of medicine. Facebook provides a platform for knowledge sharing, education, networking, peer support, and advocacy.

New Zealand Women in Medicine (NZWIM) had planned to extend that to an in-person conference in 2021 — then Covid hit.

Women “pay it forward”

Two years later, more than 300 women finally got their first opportunity to meet face-to-face at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

“NZWIM wanted to celebrate, not just their freedoms post-Covid, but the incredible diversity of talent, skills and achievements of our medical wāhine,” says NZWIM chair Orna McGinn.

“Our aim was to challenge and inspire attendees so that they can ‘pay it forward’ — the importance of Te Tiaki Whaiaro (self-care) is increasingly recognised as the rate of burnout in medicine continues to rise.”

Altogether more than 380 attendees, including sponsors, exhibitors and presenters, were part of the conference, which Orna says proved hugely successful.

Not only did it bring female medical professionals together in one central location where they could share and learn from each other, but delegates also enjoyed the quality of speakers and presentations.

“With Wellington being home to most of New Zealand’s central government agencies it was easy to tap into local high-profile speakers.”

Orna McGinn, Chair of New Zealand Women in Medicine

Capital the ideal destination

“With Wellington being home to most of New Zealand’s central government agencies it was easy to tap into local high-profile speakers. We had Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall speak to us, which was enthralling.”

The capital itself also provided a great delegate experience, says Orna.

“We had a run club going every morning where delegates would run between Wellington landmarks. Our programme involved social functions which were in close proximity to our conference venue within the CBD.”

NZWIM is now looking to hold their conference biennially, potentially in Wellington again.

“Our intention is to keep it in Wellington, given how compact it is, its central location, and how easy it is to tap into quality speakers.”

Dr Ayesha Verrall speaks at the inaugural New Zealand Women in Medicine Conference.