GP moves on after 38 years
Ralph Wiles experienced it all during his 38 years in medicine in Tokoroa and now it is time to clock off.
The Tokoroa Medical Centre part-time GP has done his dash in South Waikato.
Wiles left behind the ups and downs of his career in Tokoroa last week.
The Auckland-born doctor never imagined creating a life in a small town.
In fact his shift to the timber town in 1976 was only supposed to be a three-week stint.
Three weeks turned into two years as Tokoroa grew on him, he said.
And there were no plans of turning back after that.
"When we came we had three kids and we had a fourth here," he said.
The word retire means very little to the 67-year-old who is moving on to a new practice in Opotiki.
Wiles said the fact he has stayed for so long proves how much he has enjoyed pursuing his career in South Waikato.
Being a standard GP has dominated most of his time but he said his early opportunities in obstetrics are among his most memorable.
"There's certainly been some hair-raising moments," he said.
"Delivering babies was fun but terrifying at times."
He had only one goal in mind when the unexpected calls would come at all hours of the day and night.
"You try to keep it as low key as you can for the sake of the patient because you don't want to alarm the mother," he said.
There were too many magical moments to label just one, he said.
"I still get patients coming in and pointing out to me their children that I delivered for them."
As time went on and legislation changed, Wiles said he had to give up the practice he described as a hobby.
But his GP work was just as interesting and he said there are always surprises when treating some patients.
"I still chose to do GP and I have never regretted that at all," he said
But the best part was the connection he made with people.
"You connect with people on a certain level and that's a privilege. I never take that for granted," he said.
As Wiles takes his memories with him, he hopes his vision will stick around - a dream to see budding doctors grow in Tokoroa just as he did.