Wairau Hospital, Blenheim
Blenheim is a rural town in the north of the South Island, the largest centre in the Marlborough region with a population of 30,000. At Blenheim is Wairau Hospital, with 86 beds and a wide spectrum of services serving the smaller communities around it. Most of the primary health care teaching occurs in Kaikoura (population 3,900), Murchison (624), and Takaka (1,223). Students training in Blenheim in the RMIP programme spend a little time in Nelson Hospital (173 beds). All services expected in a hospital of this size are available including mental health services, midwifery, internal medicine, surgery (orthopaedic, general, ENT, and ophthalmology), and paediatrics. The study programme is primary care based with very adequate hospital attachments.
The RMIP experience in Marlborough
There are twenty-five GPs in Blenheim, sharing an on-call rota which includes the RMO for the Accident and Emergency Department in the region’s hospital. The Marlborough RMIP experience exposes the student to every aspect of medicine from the mundane to the EMST and PRIME aspects of medical and trauma care. There are five GP tutors who have varied interests in general medicine, palliative care, sports medicine, drug and alcohol counseling, and acupuncture. In addition, Wairau Hospital has keen specialists in medicine, surgery, psychiatry, orthopaedics, accident and emergency, sexual health, ophthalmology, ENT, paediatrics, and midwifery. Wairau Hospital provides the student with one-one-one teaching, as well as hands-on for minor operations, deliveries, and many other procedures. Any gaps are willingly filled either by visiting specialists, or Nelson Hospital, which is just one and a half hours away over the hills.
RMIP students enjoying the sun in Blenheim
The students spend about three sessions a week with a GP, three a week with specialists, and one a week as a group tutorial which is usually at the hospital, but may be at Buzz’s bach in the Sounds; the rest is study and/or even more fun time. Socialising isn’t only encouraged, it’s mandatory, and with more vineyards than any other part of the country, it’s hard not to have fun.
Dr Buzz Burrell
Regional Co-ordinator for Marlborough
Rural Medical Immersion Programme