Preview to the Men's Health Education Rural Van's visit to Morisset Show on February 8 and 9

OFTEN it's the nagging of an insistent wife or girlfriend. But sometimes it's the chance to win a bet with some mates. Seriously.

Registered nurse Rob Woolley doesn't mind what prompts blokes to step inside his consulting room to have a free health check.

All that matters is that they step inside and take the examination.

Mr Woolley works in the Men's Health Education Rural Van (MHERV), a purpose-built caravan with two consulting rooms.

With the help of the Royal Freemasons' Benevolent Institution, and Rotary, the MHERV travels to rural and regional centres throughout NSW and parts of Queensland offering men free health checks.

The van was in Toronto on Wednesday and Thursday, and will be at the Morisset Show, at Morisset Showground, over the weekend.

There's no appointments. No waiting rooms. No cost. And no medical jargon.

"In 14 months of work I've done 6600 examinations," Mr Woolley said.

"And sitting in here with the door open I can hear things," he smiles.

"We'll be set up outside Bunnings and I'll hear it start.

"A woman will say 'Go on, it'll take five minutes.' And then you'll hear a man mumbling. And then the woman will start up again 'And it's free. Go on. Get in there. Do it now!'"

But it's not always women who provide the motivation for reluctant men to have their health checked in the MHERV.

Lately, Mr Woolley has noticed a competitive element driving some men to want to know their blood pressure, cholesterol level, or blood sugar level.

Like the time the MHERV visited the Coonamble Gold Cup race meeting.

Four 30-something mates lined up for the tests, each of them confident that they would return a 'better' score than their three friends.

So confident, in fact, that they each put $100 on the outcome of the test results.

Mr Woolley explained to the foursome what constituted a 'better' score on each of the tests.

Each man's numbers were compared, and an apparent winner emerged. But then there was a protest.

"It turned out the guy who's won was on some medication that boosted his result in one of the tests," Mr Woolley said.

So he had to be disqualified, and another of the mates picked up the $400, he said.

"Yeah, sometimes it's a competitive thing," he smiled.

So what goes on inside the van?

With a simple finger-prick blood test, Mr Woolley tests blood sugar and LDL cholesterol levels. In the three minutes it takes for the blood results to materialise, Mr Woolley will take the patient's blood pressure and pulse, and discuss any other health concerns.

When the results come through, he'll decipher the numbers using plain language and, depending on the results, he might offer some dietary or lifestyle advice, or recommend the patient see a doctor.

One of Mr Woolley's most effective phases is: "If those were my numbers, I'd be concerned..."

"When we see some really nasty numbers come up for a man, I'll phone him the next day to check that he's made an appointment to see his doctor - particularly if there's a family history [of a disease]," he said.

And what of Mr Woolley's bedside manner?

Well, it's probably not what most men would expect from a medical professional.

"If the blokes leave after a consultation with me and say 'He's a funny bastard, but he knows what he's talking about', then I'm a happy man," Mr Woolley said.

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