Kaitaia GP Dr Lance O'Sullivan is in the United States to take part in an International Visitor Leadership programme with participants from 23 other countries.

Dr O'Sullivan, a former New Zealander of the Year left at the weekend. The programme begins this week in Washington DC with an overview of US federalism and an introduction to the United States' non-profit sector, and national and international support for civic activism.

The visitors will split into three groups on Sunday, Dr O'Sullivan's travelling to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to study the recruitment, management and training of volunteers, undertaking a case study of NGOs and civic activism, a workshop on non-profit management and to look at NGOs' fundraising and civic activism.

They will specifically examine a mentoring programme designed to encourage and support adolescent Hispanic girls to stay at school, to pursue academic and career goals, to maintain and/or improve their health, to connect with themselves, their families and their communities, and to lift their self-confidence and expectations for the future.

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Dr O'Sullivan said he would be away for more than three weeks and travel to four or five states. He hoped to gain a good deal that he would be able to bring back to the Far North and New Zealand, including elements that could be used in the tele-medicine programme he and his wife Tracy had established in the Far North.