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31/08/2017 16:33:04

August 2017 - Beyond the Horizon by Cathal Cassidy

"Beyond  the Horizon"

Guest Blogger, Dr Cathal Cassidy, talks about life after retirement

As Dr Gerry Lynch heads off for a well-deserved holiday, we welcome Dr Cathal Cassidy as our Guest Blogger. Cathal reflects on life after retirement in Rotorua, New Zealand.  Our very best wishes to Cathal and Clare from colleagues and friends in NI.

Cathal and Clare Cassidy"I retired from the HPSS in 2010 and spent 3 months doing the accumulated odd jobs around the homestead. I stirred one afternoon during my postprandial reverie in the Garden Room with the disturbing thought that I could be slowly doing this for the next 20 years. Rudely awakened by this thought I concluded I needed the intellectual stimulation I had been accustomed to over the last 25 years as a psychiatrist and trained for in medicine 10 years before that. 

I registered with the Irish Medical Council with the assistance of the College of Psychiatry of Ireland and embarked on a Locum Consultant post in Louth/Meath Psychiatric Services for 11 months. I then progressed to a 4-year Consultant post in Cavan Monaghan Mental Health Services, based 20 miles from my home in Co Tyrone, in St Davnet’s hospital Monaghan. I was no novice to St Davnet’s as I had spent 1-month resident there as a fourth year medical student in Psychiatry in 1979, along with Graeme Mc Donald, Cathal Grant and others, under the tutelage of Dr John Owens. In this Monaghan job I consulted to the longest established Home Treatment Team in Ireland (20 years this year). I loved that job and had no plans to leave it.

In March 2016 Clare and I went to visit our daughter, Helen, in New Zealand. She had gone to work there as an SHO in General and Emergency Medicine in the sunny port city of Tauranga in the NZ North island.  We had a one-month stay and were very impressed by its similarities to Ireland, the green pastoral landscape, the empty roads, and temperatures generally 5 degrees higher all year-round. I also did some hunting with four NZ Hunts as the season was opening in the southern hemisphere but closing at home.

Cathal Cassidy on horseback

After the month’s visit we came home and looked at those e-mail adverts the locum agencies send with a renewed interest. I had previously always deleted them without a thought. In May 2016 I responded, “I may be interested in a Consultant post in New Zealand”.  Immediately a response returned asking for a CV.  About 10 days later 5 Consultant posts were put forward as possibilities throughout the NZ North island, in Auckland, Tauranga, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Rotorua, and a Clinical Directors post in Northland.  Decisions!   Factors influencing the decision were; the exclusion of the relentless traffic in Auckland, we couldn’t cramp Helen’s style in Tauranga being most embarrassing parents, Gisborne was too far East, Hawkes Bay, though a very tempting and warm wine district, was 5 hours from Auckland International Airport. It would have to be Rotorua 2 ½ hours from Auckland airport and in the best hunting and sporting country in NZ, with free draining volcanic soils and rivers and lakes celebrated for their trophy size trout.

The interview was set up on Skype, and after I had demonstrated my Psychiatric experience and newly acquired knowledge of the Treaty of Waitangi I was offered the job as a Consultant in General Adult Psychiatry with a lot of accompanying comment about advising on reform of the Service and setting up a Home Treatment Team. From returning home from the NZ visit in April 2016 and impulsively signalling my interest in a job in May, the indicative contract was signed in June, I started work in Rotorua on 3 October 2016. The inducements were a very healthy Consultants salary, a very generous moving allowance and accommodation and a car for a month while we settled in.  The terms are that we have to stay 2 years in post and we have been granted a three- year work visa even though we are over 55 years.  The push factors were that an agency handled everything, every step of the way; the last of our young adult children have finished university, and Matthew was well settled in supported accommodation in Omagh where four of his uncles are in practice.

Authored by Dr Cathal Cassidy

August 2017

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Dr Gerry Lynch

Dr Gerry Lynch, Chair RCPsychNI


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