Both Connect Communications Directors have a background in General Practice and medical education. They share extensive experience teaching communication skills to different groups from undergraduate medical students and international medical graduates, to graduate programmes and groups of experienced clinicians. They bring together experience that includes educational management, course development, academic research, corporate teaching, performance, supervision and facilitation of groups.
Their strengths as teachers stem from their wide-ranging experience in the medical communications field, coupled with excellent teamwork and a dynamic, interactive style.
Dr Fiona Moir
MBChB, MRCGP, PhD
Fiona Moir trained in the UK at Sheffield University, and went on to work as a GP in Britain and New Zealand. As well as being a partner with Connect Communications, she works part-time as a Senior Lecturer in The Department of General Practice and in the Medical Programme Directorate at The University of Auckland. In this role she teaches both postgraduate and undergraduate students, and specializes in communication skills, student and practitioner wellbeing, and mental health. She is also the co-head of the Personal and Professional Skills Domain for the medical programme, lead for The Health and Wellbeing curriculum at the medical school in Auckland, and has a role providing pastoral care to medical students. As well as having more than 20 years of teaching experience, she also has a background in performance, having previously worked internationally at festivals and corporate events.
In 2008, she was one of the co-authors of the CALM website, a resource for stress management and wellbeing which was originally made available to students and then later released to the public. Her interests are: the health of health professionals; early interventions for stress, anxiety and depression and the prevention of burnout; self-care, and communication skills. Her PhD topic was about enhancing the wellbeing of medical students, and she has several publications in peer-reviewed journals in the areas of communication skills and mental health.
Fiona has been a partner in Connect Communications since 2001, and a Director since 2017.
Dr Renske van den Brink
MBChB DipObs FPC FRNZCGP DipCouns MNZAC PGDipMindBody Healthcare
Dr Renske van den Brink graduated from Auckland Medical School in 1989 and has spent most of her medical career in General Practice. In recent years she has focused her interest in the MindBody area and in 2002 she graduated with a Diploma in Counselling using the Psychosynthesis model which supports her work as a MindBody therapist and counsellor in Mt Albert, Auckland. Renske has been a facilitator on the Overseas Trained Doctors Programme for four years, as well as teaching doctors and medical students at the University of Auckland communications skills and professional development since 2001. In 2009 she graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in MindBody Healthcare from Auckland University of Technology. Renske has done training in Supervision and she supervises health professionals both in her private practice and as an Accredited Balint group leader. She is an author in the collaborative book edited by Dr Brian Broom, “Transforming Clinical Practice using the MindBody Approach: A Radical Integration.”
Renske has been a partner in Connect Communications since 2001, and a Director since 2017.
Dr Suzanne Duff
MBChB, MRCPsych, FRANZCP, Certificate of Old Age Psychiatry
Suzanne Duff graduated from Liverpool University, then moved to New Zealand in 1991 to train as a Psychiatrist, specialising in Old Age Psychiatry. She has worked as a Psychiatrist for both Waitemata and Northland DHBs, and now does locum and supervision work, as well as contracting to Connect Communications. She also runs an Eco Lodge in Northland. Over the last 15 years, Suzanne has developed a keen interest in training and supervision, having held the roles of both Director of Advanced Training for New Zealand for the RANZCP Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry Training Programme and Psychiatry Registrar Training Facilitator for Waitemata DHB.
Dr Susan J. Hawken
MBChB Dip Obs FRNZCGP MHSc (Hons)
Susan Hawken is a General Practitioner at Browns Bay Medical Centre and a Medical Educator for the RNZCGP. She has spent 24 years working in General Practice, both rural and urban. Previously a Senior Lecturer in the Department of General Practice and Primary Healthcare, University of Auckland, she has a strong teaching and academic background. She co-founded, and now contracts for, Connect Communications, which delivers training in communication skills and well-being for health practitioners. She has published widely and contributed to books on Medical Education. Her research interests include quality of life issues for clinicians, the clinical learning environment, and professional and communication skills development.
Dr Emma Merry
MBBS, FCICM, FAChPM, MClinEd
Emma Merry trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School in London, before moving to New Zealand in 1997 to undertake specialist training in Intensive Care Medicine. Emma is dual trained in Intensive Care Medicine and Palliative Medicine. In 2016, she graduated with a research Master’s in Clinical Education from the University of Auckland, with a thesis examining motivation in clinical teachers. Emma works part time as a Palliative Medicine specialist at Hawkes Bay Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital and has a part-time role as Clinical Education Supervisor for the University of Otago Wellington School of Medicine. She has previously been a Prevocational Educational Supervisor and been part of the Education Committee, Medical Council of New Zealand.
Emma’s second clinical role is as Senior Medical Officer with Organ Donation New Zealand, which involves providing on-call support to clinicians and has a significant education component.
Dr Rob Shieff
Rob Shieff is a General Adult Psychiatrist, working in full-time private practice in Ponsonby, Auckland. He has a particular interest in the assessment and treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders (Depression and Bipolar Disorder). Rob has considerable experience in the field of psychopharmacology, and in the delivery of short term, evidenced-based forms of psychotherapy, including CBT and applications of mindfulness. He is an experienced facilitator and teacher, having run groups and given lectures for over 20 years.