When Dr. Gunu Naker retires next week, the St. George community will not only lose a GP, but a friend as well.
During the last 50 years of work at St George, Dr. Naker, 78,He has treated generations of families and seen his patients become his friends.
For his dedication he was honored with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his service to the international community and to medicine at the 2020 Australia Day Awards.
Dr. Naker retires May 31 from Eastbrooke Medical Center Carlton. Born in Tanzania, he completed his medical degree at the University of Bombay’s Grant Medical College and came to Australia with his wife, Usha, in 1971.
Initially working as a senior resident at Canterbury Hospital, he opened a general practice on Hillcrest Avenue, Hurstville in 1976.
“I was treating four or five generations of the same family, including grandparents and great-grandparents,” said Dr. Naker.
“Now I’m treating the children of people who were children when they first visited me. You get to know people well. Eventually, you’re taking care of people not just as a doctor but as a friend.”
He also operated an after-hours service at St George Private Hospital and taught at NSW, Sydney, New England, Macquarie and Newcastle universities.
“Teaching is very important to me,” said Dr. Naker.
“Medical students learn firsthand what goes on in general practice. They’re seeing all kinds of patients and it gives them all kinds 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.
“The mind has a lot to do with how the body works. Beyond that, there is the spirit. This helps particularly in terminal cases. Because some people don’t have faith, they focus on their body. People who have faith They’re much calmer at the end, finishing part of their life.”
Dr. Naker also believes that part of his job has been to continue to teach himself. To better serve his patients, he completed a FAMAC Acupuncture Fellowship (Fellowship of the Australian Medical Acupuncture College) and a Masters in Psychological Medicine at the University of NSW.
His teaching has included his volunteer work abroad, working since 1983 with disadvantaged communities in Fiji and India with the International Sathya Sai Organization.
“By volunteering as doctors, medical students realize 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 his involvement with RAIN (Resourceful Australian Indian Network) helping older people in the local Indian community stay connected.
He will also continue to teach yoga and mediation.
And he hopes to spend much more time gardening, which he loves.
Dr. Naker said it has been very emotional saying goodbye to his patients.
“We have connected very well, not only as patients but as friends and I will keep in touch when I retire,” he said.
His advice to young doctors starting their careers:
“Unfortunately, modern medicine is prescriptions and treatments and that’s it,” he said.
“You have to look beyond this.
“As a doctor, it is my duty to go beyond diagnosis and treat the person as a whole: body, mind and spirit.”