Dr Helen Brough

Q&A with retiring doctor, Helen Brough

Dr Helen has been with PVH Medical for 17 years after 11 years at Sussex Medical Centre. It is 41 years since she graduated. After much thought, she decided it was time to close her trusty computer. But is Helen retiring from life? Or just work?

So Helen, what’s the grand plan? How will you spend your days?

My plans are pretty open at present. I am fairly confident that children will occupy quite a bit of my time. I want to volunteer at my grandchildren’s schools. This is something I didn’t do for my own children.

I have offered to be involved with a preschool music play group at my church. I am mulling over getting involved in some kind of political activity. I think society will be better if more ordinary people are involved in developing policy at some level.

Everything will take longer because my main mode of transport will be a bike.

What will happen to your patients when you retire?

There are many excellent doctors at PVH Medical who are able to work with the people I have been seeing, to provide ongoing health care. Just make an appointment with one of them and see how it goes.

A few people will prefer to change practices. Their new doctors will send an authority to allow transfer of medical information that the patient will have been asked by them to sign. PVH Medical will arrange to send the information requested.

What do you look forward to most in retirement?

It’s an opportunity to do new things and to do things that I have wanted to do previously but not managed to achieve them.

What did your family say on hearing the news?

“You’ve been talking about it for a long time”.

What’s been your career highlight?

I have two experiences that highlight teamwork.

My husband and I have been able to work together to allow each of us to have the career we wanted while providing all the care, between us, for our three girls when they were little.

The other highlight was when we all (doctors, nurses, admin staff and patients) worked together to move the practice to the surgery on Gaffney St for 11 weeks while the old building was pulled down and the new one put up.

We all had to work efficiently and cooperatively because there were only five small consulting rooms with no time from the end of one doctor’s session and the start of the next. But we did it, and in good spirits.

What memorable work story can you share?

I cherish the day I saw four generations of the one family over separate consultations in the one day. This represented the stable community we serve and how our practice is valued by them.

If you could change one thing about your working life, what would it be?

I would have liked to spend some time in Aboriginal health.

I have also worked in general practice in Fiji, and the Prison Medical Service at Pentridge and Turana Youth Training Centre.

What advice would you give other people thinking of retirement?

It remains important and challenging to continue to make new friends, whether you’re a five-year-old starting school, an 85-year-old moving into aged care or 65-year-old beginning retirement.

What is the smartest thing you did to prepare to retire?

Start working.

Do you think you will downsize your home or move suburbs?

I have no desire to do either of those things. I like my house (it’s not too big) and garden (I hope it will look better by 2022). And I like my suburb.

What will you do to stay fit and healthy?

All the usual things, only more frequently: gym, bike riding, running, dancing, gardening, walking. Dancing is great socially, physically and mentally – all the elements recommended to delay dementia.

How will you maintain social connections?

I will really miss automatic contact with people – patients, families and staff.  People will remain at the heart of most of activities I take on. I will get involved in community activities. The church to which I belong, is very busy.

Are there any new places you would like to see?

Unlike most people, I don’t have a travel bucket list. I expect my holidays will continue to have an eye for global warming issues. I can enjoy local holidays because of the people I am with and activities I am doing.

However, my daughter lives in USA so I am planning varied routes to get to Maryland when I can finally travel to meet my new granddaughter.

What do you think about the saying “life begins at retirement”?

I don’t agree with it at all. Life begins again every day for everyone. I have been blessed in my life, career and family until now. Retirement is another phase of life. I can only hope to feel as blessed in 10 and 20 years’ time as I feel today.

Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to share?

My husband quotes Lewis Carroll’s Mock Turtle: “A wise fish never goes anywhere without a porpoise”.

I don’t usually offer many words of wisdom to others. Wisdom for my own life is found through my position as a person of faith.

PVH Medical wishes Dr Helen a happy and healthy retirement.