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Auckland uni expands rural doctor training to Taranaki

The University of Auckland and Taranaki DHB, along with local leaders and health professionals will welcome 18 year five medical students to Hawera Hospital on Monday, to launch the University’s regional-rural medical programme in Taranaki.

University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon says: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Taranaki DHB to provide our students with opportunities to experience high-quality clinical training in regional and rural environments.

Planning has been underway for the past two years and it is heartening to see the programme come to fruition.

“The University’s goal is to have at least 30 percent of our students working outside urban centres and, to achieve this, we need to partner with our regional health boards, rural hospitals and general practices.

We have been impressed with the willingness of many Taranaki groups to participate in our students’ learning, including local industries.”

Each student will spend at least six weeks studying in the Hawera area. Planning is well under way to ensure the students will engage with a wide range of community organisations, as well as Hawera Hospital and will also learn from a wide range of health professionals in the area so they develop a sense of practising medicine in a rural setting.

“We know from our existing regional-rural programmes in Northland and the Bay of Plenty that students benefit from the experiences they gain by practising medicine outside big hospitals,” Professor McCutcheon says.

Taranaki DHB Chief Executive Rosemary Clements says the launch of the regional-rural programme in Taranaki is a welcome adjunct to the DHB’s current postgraduate Rural Hospital Medicine Training Programme, operating out of Hawera Hospital.

“In 2012 Hawera Hospital gained accreditation as a teaching hospital for rural medicine,” says Mrs Clements.

“It was a major achievement for our DHB and we are delighted to be part of the University of Auckland’s regional-rural medical programme. This will assist us to train more doctors in rural medicine and our hope is once they have graduated, they return to working in our rural communities.

“Rural Taranaki plays a vital role in our local and national economy and ensuring people living in rural Taranaki have access to safe, effective, quality health services is a priority for our DHB,” adds Mrs Clements.
Students will spend the balance of their year in New Plymouth, mainly at Taranaki Base Hospital, in New Plymouth. There will be a total of 34 medical students in Taranaki this year.

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