Medics seeking rural learning

By, Kelli Hooks

Four rookie doctors will be cutting their teeth in Wairarapa as part of Otago University's rural immersion programme.

The programme puts fifth year medical students in rural areas for the year where they work in medical practices and hospitals under the guidance of GPs and hospital staff.

Twenty students were chosen for the programme this year.

John Fernando from Otago University's Christchurch School of Medicine, Tina Chiang from Dunedin School of Medicine, Jessica Hunter from Otago University's Wellington School of Medicine and Riley Riddell also from Wellington School of Medicine are the four students chosen for Wairarapa. The other 16 students will be in Dannevirke, Blenheim, Greymouth, Balclutha and Queenstown.

Mr Riddell said all four had chosen Masterton. "It had a great reputation from the old students.

"The programme is good if you're interested in general practice and it's all about hands-on learning," he said.

Ms Chiang said it would be a nice change from Dunedin.

She also said she would be immersing herself in the community and planned to join a tramping club and a singing club while here. "We're all about the small-town friendliness," Ms Chiang said.

Mr Fernando said he had chosen Masterton because of his interest in rural health and had heard the programme was good.

"It's got a good reputation for learning, good teaching and the patient to clinician to student ratio is better than in the bigger centres."

Mr Fernando was also keen to get involved in the local community and said he would be joining a football team.

Two of the students will start at Carterton and Masterton medical centres while the other two will begin in Wairarapa Hospital. They will swap places in three weeks.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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