Catholic health practitioners will have an opportunity to get pastoral care, encouragement and collegial support in their practice with the launching of the New Zealand Catholic Medical Association.
Dr Joseph Hassan, his wife Cushla, who is a clinical nurse manager, and Dr Christina Noetzli, who are organising a launch event, had become aware of the need for support among health workers.
Dr Noetzli said that, based on her experience as a young doctor, struggling with ethical issues can be isolating.
“I’m really hoping that [the association] would be able to provide extra support for doctors, especially those who are starting out and trying to navigate what they are doing every day, and [help them] discover the way in which their faith can support them in their practice,” she said.
Dr Hassan said he is aware of a group of medical practitioners in Northland currently getting together to study Catholic teachings, and he is also aware of another group in Canterbury.
“It’s time to organise it throughout the country and make sure no one is left out of that kind of support,” Dr Hassan said.
“In the practice of medicine, we work for the best possible care of our patients. We are privileged to share the journey with our fellow human beings when they suffer illnesses and some of the most challenging events in life,” he explained.
“As practitioners, it is important that we also attend to our own needs as whole persons, so that we can be fully present in our care of others — this includes attending to our spiritual needs and need for support,” he said.
“Getting together like this gives us time for reflection, ethical advice, faith development and support from our Church and each other.”
The New Zealand bishops have offered their encouragement and support for the establishment of the organisation.
Mrs Hassan said the association is not only for doctors. “It’s for all health professionals,” she said.
The invitation is open to doctors, nurses, midwives, physiotherapists, counsellors, social workers, chaplains, pharmacists, dentists, health administrators, lawyers and anyone who works in associated roles.
An inaugural meeting will be held at St Michael’s School Hall in Remuera, Auckland on May 25, 2019, from 10am to 3pm. Mass will be celebrated at midday in St Michael’s church by Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn.
“There will be an opportunity to meet in groups, particularly groups related to the health care you are in,” Dr Hassan said.
“We’re hoping that, as a result of the meeting, we’ll have established an organisation or a group that will meet regularly and support each other regularly.”
Mrs Hassan said they kept the name of the association simple so that “even immigrants coming into New Zealand
would be able to find collegial support”.
The three also recently attended a meeting of the Federation of International Catholic Medical Associations and found how positive an association can be for Catholic health care workers.
“They [Federation] were very keen for New Zealand to form an association and join their colleagues around the world,” said Dr Hassan.
Mrs Hassan also said “the group is for people who want to understand the wisdom of the Catholic Church on ethical issues. Non-Catholics may also be interested to be part of it”, she said.
Dr Noetzli gave particular encouragement to young workers in the health sector to attend the inaugural meeting.
“Our faith and our practice really complement each other. Your job is really your vocation that allows you to live out your faith. Equally, your faith guides your vocation and the way that you practise,” she said.
She said this event will also provide those just starting out in their careers with an opportunity for networking.
“Networking is key and really, really important because there is just so much growth in sharing and having other
doctors who share a similar faith belief system,” she said.
Those who want to attend can email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Those who want more details about the event can go to newzealandcatholicmedical.co.nz/event.