Professor Dennis Pashen – rural generalist, Fellow of the RACGP, Fellow and past President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and former President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia – passed away on 23 November 2023.
Following his graduation from the University of Queensland, Professor Pashen worked as a rural generalist in Ingham, Queensland, and across the state, including as Director of Medical Services for the South Burnett and Rural Darling Downs regions.
He was named a “Legend of the Bush” by the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland for meritorious service to rural medicine and rural communities.
Professor Pashen was also a medical educator and examiner and taught as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland. He was the founding Director of the internationally recognised Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health (MICRRH) at James Cook University for 13 years (now the Centre for Rural and Remote Health), remaining active in procedural medicine throughout that time.
A faculty, North Queensland sub-faculty, and committee member at the RACGP and founding member of ACCRM, he was a driving force behind the effort to gain formal recognition of Rural Generalist Medicine (RGM) as a specialist field within general practice.
Professor Pashen moved to Tasmania in the later stages of his career, retiring in 2022 after a 40-year career in rural general practice and medical education. He is survived by his wife, Vicki Sheedy, and daughter.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said Professor Pashen was a true leader in rural health and advocacy.
“We would not be where we are in recognition for rural generalism without Dennis’ leadership or vision,” she said.
“He was a mentor, a fierce advocate, and a clinician who inspired more than one generation of general practitioners and rural generalists. He was also generous in sharing his time and ideas at all the rural conferences, and I’ll miss his perceptive vision for rural practice and how the medical professions can best serve our regional, rural, and remote communities.”
RACGP Vice President and Rural Chair Associate Professor Michael Clements agreed.
“There were few people who could match Dennis’ gravitas, experience, or strategic insight into the role and importance of rural generalism for the health of rural and remote communities,” he said.
“He could connect the dots between clinical practice, academic research, and politics. He was a mentor and inspiration to many of the current leaders in rural health and rural advocacy, and I personally benefited immensely form his support and encouragement.
“We hope the recognition of Rural Generalist Medicine will become another marker of Dennis’ legacy as a true rural generalist and icon of the profession.”
A national public consultation on recognition of Rural Generalist Medicine is underway and closes on 12 December 2023.