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Senior Registrar Representative for the Christchurch Psychiatric Registrar Training Programme

Hi, welcome to the Christchurch Psychiatric Training Program website. I’m Catriona, the current Senior Registrar Representative. I am in my fourth year of my registrar training, having done my previous three years in Christchurch.  I previously worked as House Officer in Scotland and in rural South Africa. 

The training programme in Christchurch has an excellent reputation. We have many fantastic supervisors, and supervision occurs very reliably. Both basic and advanced trainees have half a day each week of staunchly protected training time. A dedicated teaching programme occurs throughout training, with an increased opportunity for self-directed learning as the programme progresses. The programme has very close ties to the University of Otago, which means that teaching is delivered by experts in their fields, and we get a steady influx of internationally-renowned speakers to the weekly Academic Meeting. We have an excellent success rate for exams. The training programme offers plenty of additional opportunities for exam practice. Some great resources have been built up for preparing for written examinations.  Formal mock written and OSCE examinations are arranged as required each exam rotation and are supported by Consultants from around the DHB, many of whom are College Accredited Examiners and/or have years of experience preparing trainees for these exams.

We have a range of subspecialty services in Christchurch, including an Early Intervention in Psychosis Service, an Anxiety Disorders Service, a Mothers and Babies Unit, the South Island Eating Disorders Service, a regional Forensics Service, an Alcohol and Drug Service (now operating largely in a dual diagnosis model), assertive outreach, inpatient rehab, child and youth inpatient units, intellectual disability inpatient and outpatient services, etc. A 0.5 FTE psychotherapy training run has recently been established and has proven very popular with trainees. Run allocation takes into account mandatory training needs, personal preference and service provision, with the former always taking priority. This means that training should never be held up because one of the many College requirements hasn’t been met solely due to service needs. Study leave is usually very well accommodated by services, and trainees have the opportunity to attend one major international conference during their training.

Work life balance is important to most of us and working part time is not uncommon in Christchurch, particularly amongst those with young families. We operate a first on-call / second on-call out of hours roster, which generally means that patients are not kept waiting for long periods of time. This takes a lot of the pressure out of on-calls. On our current roster, we do four to five sets of nights per year, with each set being a very manageable 3 or 4 night stretch. First year trainees are gradually introduced onto the on-call roster, generally starting with a few second on-calls and shadowing the first on-call, then progressing to first on-calls and then nights. We carry out assessments with a specialist nurse or social worker at night. The Consultants are generally very supportive and responsive when on-call.

We have a strong Registrar body and meet monthly to discuss issues around training and working conditions. I also meet monthly with management on behalf of the Registrars, and attend Training Committee meetings, together with a basic trainee and a first year Registrar. We have Registrar representation on several committees within the mental health division. On the social side of things, we have a dedicated Social Representative, responsible for organising regular functions. We have an annual out-of-town retreat which is a great opportunity to catch up with the other Registrars in an informal setting. Retreats include an activity (e.g. hiking, rafting or sailing) and a topical or light-hearted talk of interest to the group. Equally as important, by training in Christchurch you have the opportunity to compete for the highly coveted annual ‘Psychiatry’s Hottest Home Baker Award’...

If you would like to know more please feel free to email me at catriona.jeffrey@cdhb.health.nz    We also have trainees who have moved to Christchurch from different parts of the country at different stages in training, who would be happy to talk to you about how the transition went for them.


Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists psychiatry training in Christchurch, New Zealand