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University of Otago sets up new health training course on West Coast

Monday 29 March 2021 11:41am

West Coast Interprofessional Staff & Students 2021
West Coast Interprofessional Staff and Students (left to right). Sue Donaldson, Deputy Leader of the West Coast programme with students Lucy Rowe (Dietician), Amanda Cotterrell (Physiotherapy), Josh Levin (Nursing), Kimberley McAuley (Medical), Anna Watkins (Oral Therapist) and Rois Gracia (Nursing), Programme Coordinator Megan Tahapeehi and Programme Leader Dr Fiona Doolan-Noble.

Te Tai o Poutini is to benefit from an interprofessional learning programme set up by the University of Otago and funded by the Ministry of Health which will bring about 50 senior students in a variety of health professions each year to the Coast.

The first group of health professional students have arrived to start the five-week programme, which involves them learning about each other’s roles while gaining clinical experience in their own professions.

Professor Sue Pullon image 2021
Professor Sue Pullon.

The students are in their final year of study for professional degrees in dentistry, dietetics, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, oral health, pharmacy, physiotherapy and social work at the University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic, the Ara Institute of Canterbury and NMIT, the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology.

They are based at the new learning hub, Te Whare Ako, which has been established in the grounds of Te Nīkau Hospital & Health Centre. They will be on clinical placements in community practices and clinics in Greymouth and Hokitika throughout their stay.

The students will be supported by clinical supervisors and by three highly qualified local staff – Programme leader Dr Fiona Doolan-Noble, Deputy Programme Leader Sue Donaldson and Kaiwhakahaere Tari (Programme Coordinator) Megan Tahapeehi.

Megan Tahapeehi image 2021
Megan Tahapeehi.

Interprofessional Programme Director Professor Sue Pullon, of the University of Otago, Wellington, says while health professional students have been coming to the Coast for clinical placements for several years, this is the first time most will have participated in an integrated interprofessional programme which fully incorporates Hauora Māori, celebrates rural health practice and focuses on the management of people with long-term chronic conditions.

The West Coast training programme is modelled on the University’s Tairāwhiti Interprofessional Education programme, funded by the Ministry of Health, which has been running in Gisborne and Wairoa since 2012.

In both programmes, the students live in shared accommodation, learning in clinics and shared activities, while being based in and helping the community.

Dr Fiona Doolan-Noble image 2021
Dr Fiona Doolan-Noble.

The aim is to promote better teamwork in health and social care, something which is critical to providing high-quality patient and client care, particularly for those who have complex and chronic conditions.

Professor Pullon says the success of the Tairāwhiti programme and the need for more students to participate led to the programme being extended to Greymouth and Hokitika. The first cohort of six students arrived in late February, with a second larger group due to begin in mid-April.

“In New Zealand, better understanding of and integration of Hauora Māori and rural health practice are key. The students will learn a lot about themselves and their peers, and about other health professions while having the opportunity to practice while still under supervision.

Sue Donaldson image 2021
Sue Donaldson.

“The course provides them with many opportunities to improve their interprofessional competencies, including their communication skills, their understanding of their own and others’ roles and responsibilities, their teamwork skills - and to work towards shared decision-making in-patient care.”

Professor Pullon says the programme also aims to be socially accountable to the community.

“The students undertake projects in small interdisciplinary groups for organisations in the community – often producing a community education resource.

“In the longer term, the programme aims to increase the number of students who return to the area as young health professionals.”

For more information please contact:

Professor Sue Pullon
Professor, Primary Health Care & General Practice and Director, Interprofessional Education Centre, Division of Health Sciences
University of Otago, Wellington

Programme Coordinator (Greymouth)
Megan Tahapeehi

Cheryl Norrie
Communications Adviser
University of Otago, Wellington
Mob +64 21 249 6787