When Dr Gunu Naker retires next week the St George community will not just be losing a GP but a friend.
Over the past 50 years of working in St George, Dr Naker, 78, has treated generations of families and seen his patients become his friends.
For his dedication he was honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the international community and to medicine in the Australia Day Awards 2020.
Dr Naker retires on May 31 from the Eastbrooke Medical Centre Carlton. Born in Tanzania, he completed his medical degree from the University of Bombay's Grant Medical College and arrived in Australia with his wife, Usha in 1971.
Initially working as a senior resident at Canterbury Hospital, he opened a general practice in Hillcrest Avenue, Hurstville in 1976.
"I was treating four or five generations of the same family including grandparents and great-grandparents," Dr Naker said.
"I am now treating the children of people who were children when they first visited me. You get to know people well. Eventually, you are looking after people not only as a doctor but as a friend."
He also operated an after hours service at St George Private Hospital and taught at the Universities of NSW, Sydney, New England, Macquarie and Newcastle.
"Teaching is very important to me," Dr Naker said.
"Medical students learn first-hand what is happening in general practice. They are seeing all types of patients, and it gives them all types of insights," he said.
"They learn that you are not just treating a disease or a body. The person is body, mind and spirit. You have to look at the person as a whole.
"Mind has a lot to do with how the body functions. Beyond that there is spirit. This particularly helps in terminal cases. Because some people don't have any faith they focus on their body. People who have faith are much calmer at the end part of their life."
Dr Naker also believes that part of his job has been to keep learning himself. To better serve his patients, he completed a fellowship in acupuncture FAMAC (Fellowship of the Australian Medical Acupuncture College) and an Master in Psychological Medicine at the University of NSW.
His teaching has included his work as a volunteer overseas, working since 1983 with disadvantaged communities in Fiji and India with the Sathya Sai International Organisation.
"By volunteering as a doctor medical students realise the value of serving without money," he said. "It imparts not only medical knowledge but also values."
Dr Naker plans a busy retirement`
He will continue with his involvement with the RAIN (Resourceful Australian Indian Network) helping seniors of the local Indian community to stay connected.
He will also continue teaching yoga and mediation.
And he hopes to spend a lot more time gardening, which he loves.
Dr Naker said it has been very emotional saying goodbye to his patients.
"We have connected so well, not only as patients but as friends and I will keep in contact in retirement," he said.
His advice for young doctors starting out in their careers:
"Unfortunately modern medicine is prescriptions and treatment and that's it," he said.
"You have got to look beyond this.
"As a doctor it is my duty to go beyond the diagnosis and treat the person as a whole - body, mind and spirit."
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