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Students team up for rural health initiative

Published: 8:33PM Saturday June 02, 2012 Source: ONE News

A new initaitive has been launched to help boost New Zealand's dwindling rural health workforce.

Over the next three years 170 top health students will work side by side in a remote region where the need is greatest.

And it is hoped one day they will return for good.

For the next five weeks Te Puia Springs in Gisborne will be home to eight young health students from Otago University's new multi-disciplinary rural immersion programme.

The students come from different areas of health - medicine, physio, dentistry, pharmacy and nursing - to work together as a team to serve the small community of 400 people.

Rural immersion has long been an element of junior doctor training but not the other disciplines.

The idea is to teach the students the importance of working together in a rural setting.

"A lot of research is showing where health care professionals come together and train as a team, then you get better health outcomes,"  Dr Patrick McHugh says.

Health statistics in the region are the poorest in the country, with many patients struggling to access the likes of dental care.

Diabetes, obesity and heart disease are endemic. 

For the students the rewards and learning have been immediate and they are grateful for the opportunity.