Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith, Goodfellow Chair 2010-present

Felicity Goodyear-Smith, 1971

Felicity Goodyear-Smith is the current Goodfellow Postgraduate Chair of General Practice and Primary Health Care.

Felicity Goodyear-Smith had wanted to become a doctor since she was eight years old. She pursued science in high school and as the only year-thirteen physics student at Westlake Girls’ High School, she had to ‘run up the road’ to attend physics classes at Westlake Boys’ High School. Among those in her class at the Boys’ High School was Bruce Arroll, the current Director of the Goodfellow Unit. In 1971, Goodyear-Smith became part of the fourth intake of students enrolled at the University of Auckland’s School of Medicine.1

After several years working as a doctor overseas, Felicity returned to New Zealand and opened a practice in Freemans Bay in 1981. She established an informal peer group with other self-employed GPs who covered one another’s clinics and organised monthly dinners for their own continuing medical education sessions. They invited a specialist to each dinner to learn about ‘what GPs do badly’. She recalled the specialists ‘would say, “Oh, GPs don’t do anything badly”, and then they’d tell us all the things that they thought we should do better [laughs]. So that was our CME’.


Felicity joined the Goodfellow Unit on a part-time contract in 2000. She worked alongside Dennis Kerins, the Director of Educational Resource, to create online quizzes which were of educational value. She explained, ‘It didn’t matter if they got the wrong answer because basically after they’d answered it you would tell them what the right answer was and give the rationale, so even if they were wrong we would explain why’.

She also took responsibility for increasing the research output of the Goodfellow Unit by helping other staff to complete their analyses and writing for publication. Phil Barham had made research one of his final aims as the Director after what he identified as ‘some barren years of publishing’ within the Unit. 1 In 2000, Douglas Goodfellow established the Campbell Maclaurin and Philip Barham Research Fund, administered by the Auckland Medical Research Foundation, to support the Unit’s research output.2 Yet increasing publications was a significant task. Dr Bruce Arroll explained that unlike most academics who trained in research, many Goodfellow Unit employees had been ‘taken out of general practice and put into a university and they slowly developed the skills of being academics’. 3

Ross McCormick, the then Director of the Goodfellow Unit, appointed Felicity as a research facilitator. He explained ‘she would encourage people, and she would get people enthused, and she would say, “Oh, we can publish this by doing that”, and off it went’. 4

Felicity was appointed as the Goodfellow Chair in 2010 and the Head of the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care in 2013. She described the Goodfellow Unit as an ‘innovative initiative funded by the benevolence of the Goodfellow family’, which provides ‘very high quality continuing professional education for GPs and now for other primary health care practitioners in an environment initially where there was none’. She explained that the Unit also offers ‘a very top quality alternative to some of the education that may be available from drug companies which of course come with their own agenda. So, it’s always been focused on evidence-based and valuable material for practitioners’.5

Felicity Goodyear-Smith speaking at the 40th anniversary of the Goodfellow Unit in 2018

  1. Hugh Patterson, ‘Pioneer Casts Off to Enjoy Family’, New Zealand Doctor, 5 August 1999.
  2. Campbell Maclaurin, A History of the Development of the Goodfellow Unit, 1978-2003, unpublished document, 7.
  3. Interview with Bruce Arroll, 19 November 2018.
  4. Interview with Ross McCormick, 2 November 2018.
  5. Interview with Felicity Goodyear-Smith.