Family doctor passes the baton

MARYKE PENMAN
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2013
Richard Mules
IN HIS SHOES: Retired GP Richard Mules has hired young GP Alan Chan to fill his position at the Glenfield Medical Centre.

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One of the country's last remaining family doctors to be delivering babies has hung up his stethoscope.

Devonport father of four Richard Mules has retired after 27 years at the Glenfield Medical Centre.

More than 3000 babies have come safely into the world thanks to Dr Mules.

At one point he was even caring for five generations of the same family and has treated regular patients from as far away as Te Awamutu.

Dr Mules, 65, was working more than 60 hours a week right up until his last day on November 29.

"Generally for GPs the grass is never greener on the other side.

"Once you have a relationship with patients long-term you need a very good reason to want to leave.

"There is no set age when you suddenly become incompetent, but I promised myself that I would take a break at this age," Dr Mules says.

Since the announcement he has received more than 200 cards and gifts from patients.

"Reading all the farewell messages the overwhelming thing is the importance of kindness, compassion and patience.

"Despite everything we are taught as doctors about treating illness, the biggest thing is that you are human."

After eight years as a mechanical engineer, Dr Mules decided he needed to make a career change.

"I saw my only future at that stage was in the corporate world and I didn't like the idea of writing memos and pushing paper every day," he says.

"I liked the idea of doing something with my hands and that involved interaction with people."

And so he joined the Glenfield Medical Centre, the longest standing practice in the area.

Dr Mules will continue as co-owner alongside GP Anna Catherwood.

"The plan now is to lead a normal life and spend more time with my family. I also want to learn to play guitar."

Former Westlake Boys High School dux and Totaravale resident Alan Chan will replace Dr Mules.

Dr Chan graduated from medical school five years ago and worked in various hospitals while completing his GP training.

"The relationship you develop with patients and the comfort of seeing a familiar face, you just don't get that in hospitals," Dr Chan says.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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