Respiratory physician Dr Anne Knight has been recognised for her contributions to healthcare in the Australia Day Honours.
Dr Knight was among nearly two dozen specialists included in the 2024 honours list, having been granted an Order of Australia Medal (OAM).
The co-director of general medicine at Manning Base Hospital in Taree, NSW, she was recognised “for service to medicine through a range of roles”, according to the medal citation.
She said her career, spanning more than three decades on NSW’s mid north coast, highlighted the growing opportunities of rural physician practice in Australia, as well as its challenges.
Having trained as both a respiratory and general physician, she stressed her work had mostly been as the latter due to the difficulties of running sub-specialty rosters at such a small hospital.
Nevertheless, she said she had pursued roles beyond Taree: sitting on the RACP’s adult medicine division council for three years and on the editorial executive committee of Australian Prescriber from 2008 to 2017.
Most notably, she worked as president of the Internal Medical Society of Australia and New Zealand, steering the group between 2020 and 2022.
“That was a highlight but it was very challenging to run a specialist society through COVID, particularly given we had relied so heavily on running conferences,” she told the limbic.
“We had to adapt, learning to run virtual and then hybrid conferences, just to keep things going through that period, and
I’m proud to say the society remained in good shape when I finished my term in 2022.”
Beyond that had been increasing responsibility in the academic arena at the University of Newcastle, where Dr Knight had been a senior lecturer in medicine since 2008 and clinical dean of the Manning Rural Clinical School in 2014-15.
“My hospital colleagues have been really supportive of me going off and doing other things, which is really nice. It’s a lovely community we have here,” she said.
Now approaching retirement, she said she had “begun winding down” her work commitments, having stopped seeing patients four months ago, while remaining heavily involved in teaching.
She said that she was “overwhelmed and very honoured” by the accolade, saying she hoped it would highlight some possibilities of a rural career while admitting she herself had been pleasantly surprised by all that she had been able to achieve in Taree and beyond.
“I’ve been very fortunate in my career to be able to do so many interesting things. I actually thought when I arrived in Taree that I wouldn’t be able to do as much but it honestly hasn’t really been an impediment,” Dr Knight said.
She added: “Working in a rural hospital is also very intellectually stimulating. You never quite know what you’re going to get next and you’ve got to be able to handle whatever is thrown at you. It’s a fantastic career.”