Tuesday 8 November 2022 11:00am
From left, Governor-General Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Cindy Kiro, 2022 Rhodes Scholarship recipient Oliver Sutcliffe and Distinguished Professor Dame Jane Harding, New Zealand Secretary for the Rhodes Trust.
When it comes to tackling the challenges of the health sector, Oliver Sutcliffe will have the tools for the job.
This talented Otago medical student has been awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and from October next year will be studying for a combined Master of Public Policy and Master of Science in Public Policy Research at the University of Oxford.
The 23-year-old is in his final year of a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Otago, having previously completed a concurrent Bachelor of Arts, majoring in philosophy.
Sutcliffe says, “For me, the desire is to engage with the bigger picture. Through medicine and my experiences with health issues in vulnerable populations, I’ve recognised we need a holistic approach.
“Working within a system is the best way to identify the need for change, but the best way to enact it is externally – through policy level change.”
Sutcliffe, who is doing his clinical placement in Christchurch and will be a house officer in Whangarei next year before leaving for the UK, says his Oxford studies will be “the natural union of my analytical philosophy and clinical medicine halves”.
While he intends to make the most of all Oxford has to offer, at this stage he expects to return to New Zealand after his studies.
“As privileged as I feel to be the recipient of such a prestigious scholarship, I believe that Oxford is not a destination but part of a journey – one my scholarship will undoubtedly foster, but which nonetheless leads me back to the country I love, its people and the vulnerable members of our hapori whānui.”
The current health climate, with both challenges and opportunities, has created “a fascinating environment within which to kickstart a career in health policy.”
Sutcliffe has a strong track record in policy research, including as lead researcher on novel democratic methods for alcohol policy reform, and is currently lead researcher on a project that looks at predictors of intensive care unit admission in overdose patients.
While most people would consider Sutcliffe’s studies enough to keep him busy, he’s also done a range of volunteering, including tutoring school-aged Syrian refugees. He plays football, futsal and classical piano, and enjoys tramping and freediving throughout the South Island.
The Rhodes Scholarship, established in 1903, is the world’s pre-eminent and oldest graduate fellowship. The scholarships are postgraduate awards supporting outstanding all-round students at the University of Oxford and providing transformative opportunities for exceptional individuals.
Sutcliffe’s referees commented that, “While he has a strong rational and scientifically focused mind, he also has a broad social perspective fused with strong values of equity, democracy and transparency.”
One described him as “a future leader of healthcare”.