Dr David Short – GP and rural hospital doctor

12 April 2023

Category: Rural


Dr David Short is clearly someone who strives for balance. Throughout the ‘long and circuitous’ pathway David took into medicine, he has frequently taken time out to pursue other passions and to re-evaluate his priorities. We talked to him about life, the great outdoors, and how he has crafted a career that makes the most of all medicine has to offer.

While finishing up his dual training in rural hospital medicine and general practice, Dr David Short couldn’t quite settle on one direction, so he didn’t.

Currently, he works in six-weekly cycles, with two weeks spent at Greymouth Hospital in the in-patient medical services department, followed by four weeks at Greenwood Health in Motueka.

When he is not working, he is busy spending time with family in the outdoors, whether it’s at the beach or in the hills surrounding his Tasman home.

It was during his training when the realisation dawned that combining his passions was the best path towards balance and fulfilment.

“I took a year out to go and do a Certificate in Outdoor Recreation on the West Coast. It was basically a chance to focus on something other than studying and pursue my passion for the outdoors,” David says.

“I realised I wanted to combine my interests in the outdoors and in medicine, because medicine really is so vast that there are lots of avenues you can go down to make sure you have a fulfilling and varied career.”

Rural medicine appealed to David because of the variety and breadth of the medicine he gets to practice.

“I like knowing that if I’m the first on the scene to an emergency, I can offer a lot, because by its very nature rural medicine requires you to maintain a full range of skills.”

“There are a lot of challenges we face in a rural environment that you just don’t get in urban areas, for example, you have to think carefully when discharging someone from in-patient care in a rural hospital if they live in a remote area with little to no access to healthcare services.

“We often have to resolve a whole range of medical, social and logistical challenges for our patients if we are going to provide them with a good outcome, and as their doctor I am directly involved in that process.”

David says in addition to building a career that provided him with variety and challenge, he also prioritised a career path that would provide a good work-life balance.

“During my training, our family took the opportunity to buy a motorhome and spent six months travelling Aotearoa 鶹Ƶ.

“Eventually we decided we wanted to settle in and find a stable home location, and Tasman had a lot to offer.”

It’s no surprise then that when David began looking for a permanent position, he was intentional about finding employment that is flexible and shares his values and commitment to taking care of its people.

“Both The West Coast and Greenwood take an holistic approach to healthcare for its patients, and prioritises the wellbeing of its staff, offering a high degree of flexibility, so it’s a great fit for me.

When at home in Tasman, David works four sessions a week, giving him time to get away and pick his kids up from school, or head into the outdoors for exercise.

“I think after you are through your training, you have more control over the amount you work. And given I’ve never had anyone ask me if I would work less, I knew I would have to be firm in setting my own boundaries if I wanted to maintain a healthy work-life balance and have time for all the other things I want to do in my life.”

“I’d encourage others who are interested in rural medicine, and eager to find a good work-life balance, to consider the same approach. In the end it’s up to you be an advocate for yourself and really think about what you bring to the profession and what you want for yourself and your loved ones and find employment that will support you to achieve it.”