Dr Alison Gazard reflects on 50 year career

REUNION: Naracoorte general practitioner Alison Gazard and chancellor Kevin Scarce. Photo: Supplied
REUNION: Naracoorte general practitioner Alison Gazard and chancellor Kevin Scarce. Photo: Supplied

It's been an astounding 50 years since Naracoorte general practitioner Alison Gazard earned her degree.

Dr Gazard returned to where it all began at Adelaide University for a reunion on October 17, and shared some highlights of her career with the Herald.

"This was just something that I always thought I'd like to do," she said simply of setting out to get her degree. "I like to help people.

"I wasn't too sure how I was going to go, but I thought I'd give it a go."

After wrapping up her six years of study in 1969, Dr Gazard had to complete one year of work placement and in her third year, she took on some work in country towns.

"I moved around to a lot of different and interesting places," she recalled.

Dr Gazard found a love for working in the country, and soon met her husband Michael in Keith.

While she loved her work, she did have to take some time off to raise her children, which put her career on hold for some time.

"That probably wasn't very helpful for my career but ... I liked to bring up my own children, so I took that time off there."

Dr Gazard shifted to the South East in 1974 and said she has enjoyed seeing the positive change she's made in the communities.

"You see children that you delivered many years ago and there's a few of them kicking around now.

"You get a lot more feedback in the country and everybody knows your business."

Dr Gazard said one of the highlights of her career would be the work she contributed towards Q Fever.

"I've been doing a lot of work with Q Fever in the past 20 years, that's probably been the main thing I've gotten a certain amount of satisfaction from.

"In 2002, the Federal Government decided to provide a Q Fever vaccination to meat workers, farmers and shearers. The problem was, it wasn't being taken up.

"The funding was there but the shearers weren't interested. And I thought, 'We've got to get these shearers, but how are we going to do it? Where do shearers go? Pubs. Where's Alison going? Pubs'.

"We were covering Millicent, Penola, Willalooka, Frances in the pubs and we were very successful. (The pub setting) settled their nerves because it's amazing how many people don't like needles."

When Dr Gazard was invited to attend the 50-year reunion ceremony, she thought it was a no-brainer, and said she was glad she made the effort to attend.

"The university ... has a reenactment of the graduation ceremony. We were expected to wear academic dress and we were all lined up and presented to the chancellor who is the ex-Governor of South Australia Kevin Scarce."

There were graduates from a range of fields such as medical, arts, agriculture, engineering and science.

Dr Gazard took her sister as a guest, and after the ceremony everyone enjoyed a lunch at the National Wine Centre.

Throughout her years of study and her career, Ms Gazard said she looks back on the experience fondly.

"It will be something I will remember for a really long time. I was pleased I made the effort to go to the ceremony; they made us feel so special."