Bold bid for a Waikato med school

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LIBBY WIL­SON

The Waikato is mak­ing a bid for the coun­try’s third med­i­cal school in a move that could put more doc­tors into ru­ral ar­eas that strug­gle to at­tract them.

The joint pro­posal by the Univer­sity of Waikato and the Waikato Dis­trict Health Board was put be­fore gov­ern­ment min­is­ters on Mon­day and is a po­ten­tial ma­jor shake-up in the way doc­tors are taught.

Con­trary to the tra­di­tional med­i­cal train­ing model, the school would take grad­u­ates with a de­gree in any dis­ci­pline and who are from the communities that need them and put them through four years of train­ing, with a large dose of it on the job in their home­town.

The aim is to steer stu­dents to­wards gen­eral prac­tice or an­other spe­cialty the coun­try is short of, such as psy­chi­a­try and geri­atrics.

It would be a new way of be­com­ing a doc­tor, univer­sity Vice Chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Neil Quigley said.

‘‘It opens the gates wider for en­try to a med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme.’’

And it’s im­por­tant for the coun­try as a whole, he said, as New Zealand’s se­cond med­i­cal school was set up 50 years ago in Auck­land.

‘‘It is a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity for both the univer­sity and the DHB, but most im­por­tantly for the peo­ple we’re here to serve,’’ Waikato Dis­trict Health Board chief ex­ec­u­tive Nigel Mur­ray said.

New Zealand brings in more than 1000 over­seas-trained doc­tors a year, and about 40 per­cent of GPS are due to re­tire in the com­ing decade, ac­cord­ing to the busi­ness case.

A third med­i­cal school is needed to plug that gap, the pro­posal says, and would fo­cus on doc­tors for the ru­ral communities which need them most.

The Waikato plan - to cater for 60 stu­dents a year for each of the four years - is to choose trainees from those ar­eas who will go back to serve them.

‘‘The key is that these peo­ple are em­bed­ded in their communities, and we know from international ex­pe­ri­ence that’s a re­ally good thing to en­sure that when they’re fully fledged doc­tors, they ac­tu­ally come back and prac­tise in the communities that helped cre­ate them,’’ Mur­ray said.

If suc­cess­ful it will take about seven years for the school to pro­duce its first grad­u­ates.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.