Casino doctor to receive Order of Australia Medal

CITIZEN OF THE YEAR: Dr Juriaan Beek proudly spoke of arriving in Australia from the Netherlands, never imagining he’d receive such an honour.
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR: Dr Juriaan Beek proudly spoke of arriving in Australia from the Netherlands, never imagining he’d receive such an honour.

DR JURRIAAN Beek from the Casino Medical Centre was both surprised and honoured to learn he would become the recipient of the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to medicine and to the community.

The national award recognises outstanding achievement and service to the community.

"When I got that letter in the mail in September (2013) saying 'would you accept the offer of the Order of Australia award', I got the surprise of my life," he said.

Dr Beek said although the award was an honour, public recognition for his work was not something he set out to achieve through his medical career.

"You don't do medicine for the award, you do medicine to help people," he said.

Dr Beek was also named as Richmond Valley Council's Citizen of the Year.

Dr Beek has been a general practitioner in Casino, specialising in obstetrics, since 1980.

"When you're a GP in a small town, your patients will become part of your extended family," he said. "And it's a privilege when you're asked to deliver a patient's baby.

"I've been here 34 years and I've delivered half the town I suspect."

As well as practising the profession he loves, Dr Beek has also spent a good deal of time teaching it.

He has been actively involved in educating medical students at the Casino Medical Centre since 1981, been a Diploma Examiner for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Board of Examiners since 2005, and been a conjoint lecturer at the University of Western Sydney's School of Medicine since 2011.

"I've always liked teaching," Dr Beek said. "Teaching is an important part of any profession if you want that profession to continue."

Before Dr Beek enrolled in medicine at 28, he had already earned himself a degree in science, worked seven years as an industrial chemist, received a masters in physics, worked four years in a research lab and published numerous papers in physics.

But it was the visit to a hospital on Karkar Island off the north coast of Papua New Guinea during a volunteer's abroad program in the late 60s that first planted the idea.

"I was so moved by what he (a volunteer) was doing, I thought, in the next life I'll do medicine."



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