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New Zealand loses a fine GP

From the President of the College, Dr Jonathan Fox


New Zealand loses a fine GP

Members of the College of GPs are today mourning the loss of one of their most illustrious and respected colleagues, former Tapanui general practitioner Peter Snow.

A former president of the College (1998-99), Dr Snow’s contribution to his patients and his profession was recognised with the award of the College’s highest honour, Distinguished Fellowship, in 2001.

Paying tribute today, College president Dr Jonathan Fox also noted the mark left by Dr Snow as a teacher of aspiring GPs, work he began in the very early days of GP education.

“Possibly he will be most remembered as the classic country doctor, looking after the people of Tapanui for over 30 years.”

A man of wit and intelligence – one who always relished the stimulation of quick minds – he hosted many New Zealand and overseas student doctors in his practice.

In addition to his work for the College, particularly in the rural area, he was a member of the Otago Hospital Board for many years, and then the District Health Board.

Peter Snow maintained a lifelong interest in seeking knowledge, and he was at the forefront of general practice research. It was noted in the citation for Distinguished Fellowship that he had a “farmer’s ability to perceive the connections between what to others might seem unrelated things. Stock in West Otago were suffering various selenium deficiency syndromes, and his patients seemed to have similar syndromes.”

That work, with co-researchers led to the identification of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or what the media dubbed Tapanui Flu.

He was also influential in raising safety awareness about the use of farm bikes after local farmers suffered severe injuries from accidents on their farms. He himself ran a deer farm, as well as his general practice, and being on 24-hour, seven-days call from the local hospital.

In an article from the Otago Daily Times, he said the life of a country doctor could be exciting, diverse, challenging and wide-ranging. This was why he was in Tapanui and had resisted tempting offers to move.

To Peter Snow, the life of a specialist was too narrow, predictable and unexciting.


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