01 December 2015

The NZMA today [7pm, 1 December] presents its highest award, the NZMA Chair’s Award, to Dr Tony Fernando, psychiatrist, sleep specialist and educator.

“Dr Fernando has shown great leadership and initiative in focusing a major part of his career on caring for the carer, and in living the values of the medical professional,” says NZMA Chair Dr Stephen Child. “His inspirational talks to medical students and many groups around New Zealand have improved the happiness of both patients and carers, and have had an immeasurable positive impact on the health of all New Zealanders.”

Dr Fernando trained in medicine in the Philippines, before completing his psychiatry training in New York and the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently a consultant psychiatrist in Auckland, a senior lecturer in psychological medicine at the University of Auckland, and also runs a private practice in insomnia medicine. His research interests include sleep medicine and medical education and he teaches practical medication techniques to medical students and others to help manage stress, anxiety and depression.

His work on the science of happiness and the importance of mindfulness has also brought him a considerable public following.

“In a profession where we see a lot of negativity and pain, Tony teaches techniques that help medical professionals remain positive and compassionate people, who see patients as people to help rather than problems to solve,” says Dr Child

“The focus of medicine today is being transformed from a disease-centric approach into a preventive, holistic approach that takes into account people’s overall wellbeing. Tony’s work with medical professionals—particularly those in training—is helping this process.”

The Chair’s Award is the NZMA’s recognition of individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the health of New Zealand. Past recipients include Dr Paul Hutchison, Dr Russell Wills, Dr Sharad Paul and Professor Swee Tan.

At the same ceremony, NZMA Fellowships are to be awarded to former NZMA president Dr Aine McCoy, and former Chair of the New Zealand Medical Benefit Fund, Dr David Pickett, both of Wellington.