Home' The Chronicle : Canberra Chronicle 14-04-2015 Contents 5 - Tuesday, April 14, 2015
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Capital medicine man spans five decades
Canberra doctor Michael Shihoff is retiring after 45 years working as a doctor in the ACT. Photo: Matt Bedford
One of Michael Shihoff's first patients
as a general practitioner was a sick
three-year old child.
Afraid to make a mess on his carpet
the child opened his desk draw,
vomited on the neatly arranged files
inside, and closed it.
It's been an eventful journey for the
veteran doctor who has hung up his
stethoscope after 45 years practicing
medicine in the capital.
"I first started as a doctor in the old
Canberra Hospital by the lake in Acton
in 1970,'' Dr Shihoff said. "We used to
catch trout by the lake while waiting
for calls on duty."
In 1976 he started a general practice
on Wattle Street across the road from
Tilly's Devine Cafe Gallery.
It was a female-only establishment
in those days with a fierce reputation
but a rare exception was made for the
young doctor with a penchant for
"My group stayed there for some 20
years,'' he said.
Students were often employed to
keep his practice neat and tidy.
But if they weren't available to cut
the lawn or clean the gutters, Dr
Shihoff would swallow his pride and
reluctantly get out there himself.
"One morning I was wearing dark
sunglasses and a big hat hoping no one
would see me as I mowed the grass,
which was a metre tall,'' he said.
"One of my patients came up and
said, Michael, a doctor's work is
never done is it?'
It was a funny time."
Dr Shihoff said there had been highs
and lows over his career. He witnessed
tremendous advances in medical
technology along with changes in
"You had to listen more and you had
to examine more,'' Dr Shihoff said.
Today, ultrasounds, MRIs and other
technologies provide fast and precise
diagnosis -- at a cost.
Although he no longer practices, he
does teach university medical students.
In this role, Dr Shihoff passes on the
many years of wisdom he has gleaned
from the job.
He said the art of medicine, which
many people wanted to try and move
beyond, was building trust with the
In turn, he said trust could give
people confidence to provide
information important to their own
"Try and read the person you're
with, see how anxious they are and see
if you can get under the veneer," Dr
"Beyond the wonderful
encyclopedic references and stuff
you've still got people."
Solar power farm
plan on agenda
The North Canberra Community
Council continues to provide a forum
which brings together stakeholders
from government, the private sector
and residents of the Inner
The guest presentation at March's
meeting was by SolarShare, which has
been created to let people have co-
ownership of a community solar farm
in Canberra. SolarShare's recent focus
has been on finding a suitable site for
the solar farm. One shortlisted option
is in the Majura valley.
As such, SolarShare wishes to
discuss this option with the NCCC and
its stakeholders as part of its plan of
action to involve communities in
making a decision.
The meeting also heard reports from
the Mr Fluffy subcommittee, the
Northbourne Avenue walking and
cycling facilities workshop held in
February and the Planning and
The April meeting takes place on
Tuesday from 7.30pm at the Majura
Function Room, 2 Rosevear Place,
Dickson. Presenters include
representatives from the ACT
Asbestos Response Taskforce,
Canberra Airport and Knight Frank,
from the Lyneham Motor Inn.
Inner North residents who can't
attend meetings can still stay informed
via e-mail of issues and council
activities by becoming a member.
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