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Strategic Plan for the Department of Public Health & General Practice

Mission

The Department undertakes excellent research that will promote and improve health nationally and internationally, delivers high quality research-informed teaching programmes, and contributes through community service to the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders locally and nationally.

Strategic Imperatives

The Department has identified eight strategic imperatives, which align with the strategic imperatives of the University of Otago Christchurch, the Division of Health Sciences, and the University Strategic Direction to 2012:

Achieving Research Excellence

Observation

Department staff are involved in a wide range of research projects. The Department has been successful in attracting HRC funding for several projects but few involving large numbers of staff, and no research programmes. It remains difficult to attract active GP researchers to academic positions (this is recognised as a problem internationally).

Response

We will continue to engage in research and will support the development of larger projects that involve multidisciplinary teams within the Department. The Department will continue to develop its successful Primary Care research programme, and will investigate ways to attract and nurture GP researchers. The Department will continue to advocate for increased biostatistical support for researchers (including research students) at the University of Otago, Christchurch.

Achieving Excellence in Medical Student Teaching

Observation

The Department makes a major contribution to the undergraduate MBChB curriculum in Christchurch, with General Practice attachments in 4th year and 6th year, a Public Health attachment in 5th year, Early Community Contact in 2nd and 3rd years, the Hauora Maori Thread, the Evidence-Based Medicine Thread, the Faculty Integrative Weeks in 4th and 5th years, and a major contribution to the Professional Development Thread.

Response

The Department will continue to contribute to medical student teaching, including active involvement with proposed changes to the curriculum in Christchurch, and will focus on core activities (Primary Care, Public Health, Hauora Maori and Evidence-Based Medicine) as recommended in the recent Review of the Department of Public Health and General Practice. The Department will support the development of a Medical Education Unit at the University of Otago, Christchurch. The Department will continue to support Faculty initiatives to increase opportunities for learning in the community, and in particular in the rural environment. The Department will continue to advocate for increased time for Public Health teaching in Christchurch, so our students have equivalent opportunities to meet the shared objectives set for all MBChB students across the three schools. The Department will also continue to advocate for academic biostatistical support at the University of Otago, Christchurch, including the appointment of an academic biostatistician, as recommended in the Department Review and also in an independent external review of the postgraduate paper PUBH 701 Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

Achieving Excellence in Postgraduate Student Teaching

Observation

The Department runs a very successful postgraduate programme in Public Health, offering the Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health, the Diploma in Public Health, and the internationally recognised Masters in Public Health.

Response

The Department will continue to promote and develop its postgraduate courses, to meet the academic and professional development needs of postgraduate students, and will endeavour to increase enrolments in papers which currently have smaller class sizes.

Achieving Excellence for Research Students

Observation

There are approximately 20 postgraduate research students in the Department each year. Most of these students are enrolled part-time undertaking MPH studies and we have relatively few PhD students.

Response

The Department will provide a supportive environment for research students (MPH, MHealSc, and PhD students). The Department will investigate ways to increase and maintain the number of PhD students in both Public Health and Primary Care.

Contributing to Excellence in Primary Care

Observation

The Department has an active and productive Primary Care research programme, which directly informs clinical practice internationally. The Department hosts the Vocational Training Programme for GP registrars, and the continuing medical education programme for Christchurch GPs. There are very close links between the Department and the Pegasus Health education team with the Professor of General Practice providing clinical leadership. Staff also provide policy evaluation and advice to primary care organisations; their clinical and health policy expertise being a particular strength of a joint Department.

Response

The Department will continue to support research, educational, evaluation and advisory initiatives which contribute to excellence in Primary Care.

Contributing to Excellence in Public Health

Observation

The Department has very strong links with the CDHB (Community and Public Health, Planning and Funding, Quality and Safety), the Christchurch City Council, the Public Health Association of NZ, the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, and Healthy Christchurch.

Response

We will continue to support Public Health initiatives, through direct involvement with, and providing information and applied research for relevant organisations and groups, central and local government agencies and international health agencies.

Contributing to a Healthy Environment, National Good and International Progress

Observation

The Department takes pride in its very strong tradition of community service, and members of the Department share their expertise with the community in a variety of ways. There is a strong link with Ngai Tahu, through MIHI. The Department also contributes to increased capacity in the Maori research workforce. Staff of the Department have taken leading national advocacy roles in areas which affect health (including direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising, gun control, and screening).

Response

The Department will continue to support and encourage staff to serve on working parties, and advisory groups, and in governance roles in community agencies, and will continue to support staff who take advocacy roles which contribute to the public good.

Building and Sustaining Capability

Observation

Our staff members are the most important resource for the Department.

Response

We will support and encourage all staff and ensure that the Department provides a positive, healthy, and safe work environment.