Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Stunt changed doctor's life

A coma resulting from a drunken prank put Dr Sam Hazledine on the path to success.

Dr Sam Hazledine set up a recruitment company to help keep young doctors in New Zealand.
Dr Sam Hazledine set up a recruitment company to help keep young doctors in New Zealand.

When Sam Hazledine did a drunken backflip off a two-metre-high wall and ended up in a coma with a head injury, it was a wake-up call.

The then 24-year-old extreme skier and medical student woke up two days later minus his sense of smell and decided he had to change his life.

"For me, the head injury was the lesson I couldn't ignore and it really taught me that for my life to change, I had to change, and I had to raise my standards that I was holding myself to as to who I was as a person, how I was behaving and the results I was achieving in my life."

He graduated from medical school, met his wife, Claire, became New Zealand extreme ski champ and began work as an emergency doctor at Dunedin Hospital in 2003.

But it was the medical recruitment company that Dr Hazledine started in 2006 that set him on the path to winning a 2014 Blake Leadership Award.

After three years in medicine, Dr Hazledine noticed that a quarter of his junior doctor colleagues were disenchanted and heading overseas to find better jobs.

"It wasn't catering to the new generation of doctors and their lifestyle needs."

Dr Hazledine found a way to help his colleagues achieve job satisfaction by placing them as locums so they could try out different specialties, places and pay rates and figure out what they wanted to do in medicine.

"It's about making it okay for doctors to want a lifestyle and not having to sacrifice everything, their whole lives, for their careers."

He said it was a slow perception to change but it was happening because there had been an acknowledgment that less-stressed doctors made fewer mistakes and achieved better patient outcomes.

By 2009, MedRecruit was the fastest-growing service company in the country and in 2012, Dr Hazledine was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Soon after, a chance meeting with Sam Childers, a born-again Christian known as the Machine Gun Preacher, led to Dr Hazledine and his wife setting up the Hazledine Foundation.

Read more on the Sir Peter Blake Trust here.

It helps underprivileged children in New Zealand and also funds rescue missions in South Sudan, where orphans are saved from being child soldiers.

Since the Hazledines got on board, the Sudan People's Liberation Army has undertaken three missions, at a cost of US$10,000 ($11,500) each, rescuing up to 20 children at a time.

"I didn't care if it was a good business decision or not. I just wanted to help," Dr Hazledine said.

Last year, he wrote a book, Unfair Fight, to help small New Zealand businesses compete in what he calls an uneven playing field.

"To evolve the status quo of our industry, we need to be in the conversation, not being informed about the conversation."

Blake leaders
Six talented Kiwis were given Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards on Friday. The Herald is profiling each winner this week.
Tomorrow: Therese Walsh, the New Zealand boss of the upcoming Cricket World Cup.

- NZ Herald

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