The launch of New Zealand’s third medical school has taken a step forward with the University of Waikato today signing a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Health.
The university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley, said the signing is a significant step to address health workforce shortages and reduce NZ’s reliance on foreign doctors.
The school will focus on training medical staff for rural practices.
“It will provide a new model of medical education in NZ, with new entry pathways attracting a more diverse range of students,” he said.
The next phase is to work with the government on developing a business case.
The university plans to have an intake of up to 120 medical students each year chosen from students who have already completed an undergraduate degree.
Quigley said this is a model used in medical training around the world and the main form of medical education in Australia.
Students will receive four years of intensive, practical medical education with a focus on rural practices.
Quigley said the current situation is not going to materially improve if nothing changes.
“We need to train more doctors, we need to select students from a wider range of backgrounds who are committed to long-term careers in primary care outside the main centres and we need to place these students in the regions where they are needed,” he said.