Why target Maori graduates for GP work?

I tell my students that it’s about being a Māori doctor, instead of being a doctor who is Māori.

If more GPs are needed for New Zealand’s regional areas then, by all means, provide incentives for Medical graduates to work in the regions. The idea that Maori graduates, in particular, should be targeted to do the work is discriminatory. If the thinking is race based because there are more Maori in New Zealand’s small towns then the plan is racially motivated. Imagine if Pakehas were targeted for medical work in large medical clinics in the cities because the perception was that most of their customers would be Pakeha?

Maori doctors are graduating at a rate greater than ever before.

…there are currently 373 Maori medical students studying at Otago and Auckland. Between us we graduated 79 in 2016. So the Maori medical workforce is young and rapidly growing.

What we don’t have is a pool of appropriate Maori graduates waiting around for another medical school to open.

The University of Waikato has proposed a third medical school with a focus on producing graduates for provincial New Zealand. Waikato states in its business case that it “represents an opportunity to engage higher proportions of Maori students in medical training and to focus them on returning to provide primary care in their communities”.

Maori graduates who want a career in medicine already apply to our programmes. If they have a strong degree with good marks, they are usually accepted…

The Waikato proposal will simply transplant the same Maori applicants from Auckland and Otago into a programme focused on general practice. Yes, meeting the medical needs of rural communities is a priority. However, I object to the idea that Maori should be trained solely for careers in general practice.

Maori doctors are needed in every speciality. Training Maori doctors only to work in areas where others don’t want to work is discrimination.

I hadn’t thought about that aspect. How discriminatory of them to think that the unpopular jobs that other doctors don’t want should be filled by Maori. It is the racism of lower expectations.

…The existing medical programmes already deliver the full scope of clinical specialisations, alongside comprehensive rural and regional training. For more than a decade we have provided year-long training experiences for senior medical students in regional and rural areas.

These are now showing positive signs of graduates wanting to return to regional areas for junior doctor experience.

In the coming years these new graduates will be seeking places and specialities in which to work. These great training experiences seem to be influencing their decisions and highlight the regional focus already in place within the existing programmes.

What we really need is investment in the infrastructure of regional and rural general practice to help more practices become safe learning environments for students, junior doctors and specialists-in-training.

Furthermore, new iterations of general practice need to be developed so that a doctor can move between rural and urban practice in a flexible and financially viable way depending on family commitments and lifestyle preferences.

…Investment in these areas would be more productive for Maori health than building another medical school.

 Papaarangi Reid is head of the department of Maori health at the University of Auckland medical school.



Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to daily code cracker?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.