Tom Helm Petersen, MD, is a GP from Denmark. He earned his medical degree at Aarhus University
(which is consistently ranked as one of the world’s best universities) and lives in Hellerup, a municipality that's bordered by Copenhagen and Øresund Sound. He loves to surf and do just about anything else in the water; he's also a certified handball coach. He and his family just completed an 18-month locum assignment in New Zealand and they enjoyed every minute of their experience. Dr. Petersen tells us all about it here.
My wife (Anne) and I love to travel. When our daughter (Camille) was born in 2008, however, we had to limit our travels to short, one-week trips to closer destinations like Greece and Egypt. At that time, my goal was to buy a medical clinic, but buying a clinic in Denmark is generally a commitment you make for the rest of your career and I wasn’t ready for that yet; I wanted some experience working outside of Denmark as a doctor first.
My first thought was to go to Africa do some volunteer work in rural districts there, but bringing a two-year-old to the savannah was not an option, so I looked around a bit and discovered that Global Medical specializes in finding jobs for doctors in New Zealand and Australia. They were able to find a practice on New Zealand’s North Island, where I would see a mixture of Maori and Pākehā patients (a Māori word for White or European people not of Māori origin)—providing a perfect combination of “third-world” experience mixed with a well-organised health system that’s similar to the European system and my training. I took the position and it has been one of the greatest experiences of our lives; the whole family has been absolutely stoked.
Our home-away-from-home “town” was surrounded by mountains and had magnificent beaches. There were all kinds of water sports and activities (another reason we chose this area). Global put us up in a beautiful house with a beach view and perfect surroundings. Every day, when the weather and waves would permit, we did some kind of water sport—mainly surfing, but also swimming, sailing and fishing (we caught some exotic fish like Kahawai, Kingfish, Gurnard, Snapper, Barracudas and even Shark).
We were in New Zealand for 18 months. We wanted to stay, but the family back home in Denmark wants to
see their grandchild grow up, so we headed home. My daughter was a bit sad to leave all her new friends at
pre-school (where she learned to speak English and even a bit of Māori), but we are definitely coming back to this corner of the world one day—as tourists or maybe as a locum again.