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Wellington campusMonday 13 June 2016 12:35pm

Associate Professor Sue Pullon
Associate Professor Sue Pullon

A new study has shown that a rural health professional programme on the East Coast of the North Island near Gisborne is highly successful for students, patients and the local community.

The study just published in BMC Medical Education demonstrates the enormous strengths and benefits of the Tairāwhiti Interprofessional Education (TIPE) programme. Run by the University of Otago, Wellington and others, the TIPE programme has now been going for nearly five years.

Associate Professor Sue Pullon, Director of the TIPE programme and study leader, says these findings are critically important, because they show that rurally based inter-professional education in New Zealand can successfully meet multiple objectives within the five-week programme, more so than traditional education within each individual profession.

“Dental, dietetic, medical, nursing, pharmacy and physiotherapy students together gain rich practical experience working closely with Māori patients and whānau, and contribute to the community with their education projects,” says Associate Professor Sue Pullon, from the University of Otago, Wellington.

Dr Patrick McHugh
Dr Patrick McHugh

In the study, TIPE students were surveyed before and after participating in the programme, and compared to a corresponding group of classmates who did not attend the programme. TIPE students were significantly more able to work well with each other, understand rural health and Hauora Māori (a unique philosophy of health and wellbeing) and were more confident in caring for people with chronic long term conditions.

“In today's health care world, learning to practice collaboratively, and work in a wide variety of health care settings, are essential clinical skills, and this programme equips senior students to transition successfully to their new health practitioner roles,” says Dr Pullon.

“These senior health professional students not only enjoy their experiences in the TIPE programme, but also learn practical skills for working in health care teams in rural New Zealand,” she says.

Funded by Health Workforce NZ, TIPE is a joint programme run by the University of Otago, Eastern Institute of Technology and Hauora Tairāwhiti DHB, in conjunction with its Whakatane-based counterpart (University of Auckland, Bay of Plenty DHB). TIPE has been running since 2012.

By the end of 2016, 312 final year students from eight health professions will have come together in successive 5 week rotations to complete the TIPE programme.

Dr Patrick McHugh, local academic TIPE leader and co-author of the study, and long-time champion for the rural health workforce, says he is delighted to see an increasing number of TIPE graduates return to the region to work in intern positions or permanent roles.


Pullon S, Wilson C, Gallagher P, Skinner M, McKinlay E, Gray L, McHugh P. Transition to practice: can rural interprofessional education make a difference? A cohort study. BMC Medical Education 2016; 16:154. DOI 10.1186/s12909-016-0674-5

Link to study

More information about the TIPE programme

For further information contact:

Dr Sue Pullon
Associate Professor
Department of Primary Health Care & General Practice
University of Otago, Wellington
Tel: 64 4 385 5995
Mob: 64 27 436 8621

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