Rural Postgraduate Society: an idea

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020 | Rory | 1 Comment

The Division of Rural Hospital Medicine and Uni. Otago are considering setting up a postgraduate society and we are keen to get feedback on the idea.

Why do we need a rural postgraduate society?

The Division and the University have been running CME targeted at the educational needs of rural clinicians (and delivered by rural clinicians who understand those needs).  Some of these, such as the RiSC courses and the annual CME workshop, have a fee associated with them, but as many as possible are free and open to everyone. This includes the articles on Leaning on Fence Posts, the webinars and the podcasts. These have proven very popular. Leaning on Fence Posts get up to 100 visits per week and average webinar attendance is around 60 people. We need to find other ways of resourcing these activities if we and to ensure sustainability and see them grow.

Some of us have good access to CME funds but there is big variation in our ability to pay for CME. A postgraduate society could be a way of those with CME allowances (who maybe are having second thoughts about European cardiology conferences) to use some of it to support home grown open access  CME for ourselves and the whole rural health professionals community.

How would a rural postgraduate society work?

Membership would be entirely voluntary. It would be a non profit making society governed by its members and would support the current CME activities and grow new ones. Members would likely be offered a discount course fees but the majority of the funds would be used for open access CME.

Please click here to let us know what you think!

Reminder: Diabetes CME – Acute problems & COVID study

Thursday, July 30th, 2020 | Rory | No Comments

Go to to register.

‘Exploring the response to the Covid-19 pandemic at the rural hospital – base hospital interface:  experiences of rural hospital doctors’ 

We are seeking rural hospital senior medical officers to undertake a short interview about their experiences working clinically during COVID-19 pandemic/lockdown. Ideally we are seeking doctors who were working clinically in NZ rural hospitals. If you are interested please click on the following link to read the information sheet and consent form.

Medical Rural Inter-professional Simulation Course

Thursday, June 4th, 2020 | Rory | 1 Comment

Medical RiSC is a course run by the University of Otago Rural Postgraduate Programme. Designed specifically for interprofessional rural hospital teams in New Zealand, it is an immersive three-day course that focuses on emergency medical care using highly realistic skills simulations and workshops.
We are inviting rural hospital doctors, nurses, paramedics and rural GPs to attend and extend their clinical knowledge and skills for medical emergency management.

Is looking to be a great course!

Sign up your team or attend as an individual!

Expelling stones

Monday, March 2nd, 2020 | Rory | No Comments

Conway JC, Friedman BW. Medical Expulsive Therapy (Alpha Blockers) for Urological Stone Disease. Academic Emergency Medicine. 2020 Feb 7. EZ Proxy link

A systematic review that updates the Cochrane review from 2014. Table summarising findings below: Alpha blockers appear safe and effective, especially if stone >5mm, for expelling stone and reducing need for hospital admissions.

Summary of results



Urinary tract stones are common and usually painful. Lifetime prevalence is approximately 10%.1 Direct health care costs are estimated to be over $10 billion dollars annually.2 First‐line treatment is typically analgesia with nonsteroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs until the stone passes. If the stone does not pass spontaneously, urologic intervention may be necessary.3 Spontaneous passage rates for small stones less than 5 mm is 68% and for stones between 5 and 10 mm is 47%.4 Certain medications such as alpha blockers are sometimes used to hasten passage of stones and decrease the need for urologic intervention or hospitalization. Alpha blockers act on ureteral alpha‐1 receptors and decrease the basal tone and peristalsis, thereby facilitating stone passage.5 However, conflicting results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have limited their use. The systematic review discussed here is an update of a 2014 Cochrane review.6 It includes several new, large, RCTs.

The purpose of this systematic review was to determine the effectiveness of alpha blockers for adult patients with symptomatic ureteral stones measuring less than 1 cm and confirmed by imaging. The systematic review included 67 trials with 10,509 patients. The included studies compared alpha blockers with placebo or medical therapy with non-steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, or antispasmodics. The primary outcomes were stone clearance (defined as stone free imaging, symptomatic relief, or stone collection by the last day of the trial) and major adverse events (defined as orthostatic hypotension, collapse, syncope, palpitations, or tachycardia). Secondary outcomes included hospitalization and the need for surgical intervention. Subgroup analysis compared stone clearance rates for stones 5 mm or smaller versus stones greater than 5 mm. Further analyses examined only high‐quality studies, excluding studies at high risk of bias.6

Overall, the use of alpha blockers was associated with increased stone passage (relative risk [RR] = 1.45, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.36 to 1.55, absolute risk difference [ARD] = 28%, number needed to treat [NNT] = 4, low‐quality evidence) without increasing the risk of major adverse events. Alpha blockers were also associated with a lower risk of hospitalization (RR = 0.51, 95% CI = 0.34 to 0.77, ARD = 14%, NNT = 7, moderate‐quality evidence) and no difference in the risk of surgical intervention (low‐quality evidence). The subgroup analysis based on the size of the stone revealed that alpha blockers did not impact passing of stones ≤ 5 mm but did improve passing of stones > 5 mm (RR = 1.45, 95% CI = 1.22 to 1.72, ARD = 30%, NNT = 3, moderate‐quality evidence).6 When the analysis was performed using high‐quality trials only, alpha blockers increased stone passing (RR = 1.09, 95% CI = 1.06 to 1.13; ARD = 7%, NNT = 15, high‐quality evidence, five studies, 4,133 participants) while having no effect on major adverse events, hospitalization, or surgical intervention.6


This review is limited in several ways. Most importantly, the quality of evidence for most outcomes was low due to several methodologic limitations of the included studies, inconsistency in study results, publication bias, a lack of prospectively stratified subgroups, and clinically important heterogeneity.

The findings of this meta‐analysis are consistent with other recently published meta‐analyses.7 However, some included RCTs, such as the SUSPEND trial, did not demonstrate a benefit for MET.8–10 The findings of individual RCTs may have been skewed toward no benefit because of limited sample size, a high percentage of smaller stones, and insufficient power to detect group differences between small and large stones. Additionally, a recent, large RCT, the STONE trial, was not included in this meta‐analysis. The STONE trial, which included 512 patients found no significant differences in outcomes.11 These findings are unsurprising as this trial has the same limitations as other individual RCTs. Because of the lack support for MET by several well‐designed RCTs, it is important to counsel patients on the potential limitations of the evidence that is being used to recommend MET.

In summary, using alpha blockers appears to be beneficial in increasing ureteral stone passage (especially if stones are >5 mm) and reducing hospitalization. They appear to be safe as they do not increase the risk of major adverse events when compared to placebo, non-steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, or antispasmodics. Because benefit is likely (particularly for stones larger than 5 mm) and there is no apparent harm, we have assigned a color recommendation of green (benefits > harm) to this treatment.

Rural Simulation Faculty Development Plan

Monday, January 20th, 2020 | Rory | No Comments

The simulation team that put on the rural inter professional simulation course have developed a Rural Simulation Faculty Development Plan.

This useful document provides a pathway that those that are interested can follow to up-skill in simulation and debriefing.

Look forward to more simulation resources being made available – and perhaps a repository of NZ rural cases and scenarios that we can contribute to and access.

Check out the Rural Health Academic Centre, Ashburton (RHACA)  (permanent link in the side bar) and I know Marc and Sampsa will welcome any correspondence. Drop them a line!

click here to access the document in full (PDF)



The Rural Simulation Faculty vision is of a pool of inter-professional faculty with expertise around simulation-based education (SBE) and debriefing who can all contribute to all rural simulation courses as needed. The group of rural courses should be strategically planned each year by the whole group to maximise value and demand. Each course will have designated course directors or leaders but can expect assistance from all faculty group members as available.




  • Establish a broad interprofessional rural group of SBE faculty across NZ.
  • Describe a common pathway for rural faculty to be credentialled as course providers through a shared understanding and experience of SBE
  • Maintenance and development of simulation expertise through feedback, mentoring and sharing of learning resources
  • Develop opportunities for learning, developing and collaborating using simulation-based education.
  • Design interprofessional educational courses for rural health care workers.
  • Research and evaluation of rural SBE



Rural simulation faculty development stream:


  1. Open for all doctors, GP’s, nurses, paramedics, allied health and midwives involved in rural health care at all levels of training.
  2. Faculty development stream comprises 7 components within three tiers, with stepwise progression through.
  3. Participation is purely voluntary and is expected to be self directed