Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Student Research Scholarships and BNZ Rural Development Scholarship.

Tuesday, July 18th, 2023 | claly44p | No Comments

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Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network is pleased to announce the availability of three $5,000 Rural Student Research Scholarships for the 2023/24 year.

Two of the Scholarships are open to any health students to support a 12-week elective/studentship, and/or research placement within a rural community of the student’s choice. A BNZ Rural Development scholarship is available to any year two and above Medical Student for the same period.

Previous examples of research include 2022 recipient of one of the research scholarships, Krystyna Glavinovic, a second-year medical student from the University of Auckland. Krystyna conducted a research project titled: Understandings and experiences of climate change in rural general practices in Aotearoa-New Zealand

Supervised by Dr Kyle Eggleton of the University of Auckland and A/Prof Alex Macmillan of the University of Otago, Krystyna undertook the study to determine the understandings, experiences and sense of preparedness of rural general practice staff in Aotearoa-New Zealand with respect to climate change and associated adverse weather events.

In 2023, Samantha Menzies, fourth-year medical student at Tauranga Hospital, was the recipient of the BNZ Rural Development Scholarship. She has since been conducting a research project with Dr Kyle Eggleton.

“Our project was a rapid review of the available literature about rural healthcare ethics. It is the first research paper to describe rural doctors’ unique ethical challenges compared to urban doctors. It is currently awaiting a peer review and is informing the development of a teaching resource about medical ethics for medical students.”

She continued to describe how “the scholarship has allowed me to explore my newfound interest in rural medicine. I got to ‘deep dive’ into the literature and have in-depth but causal discussions with Dr Kyle about the reality (both the highs and lows) of being a rural doctor, so thank you Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network and BNZ for this opportunity”.

As both examples of previous projects indicate, the successful applicants are expected to write up the results of any research and attempt to get this published. In addition, the student is expected to provide an abstract for presentation at the National Rural Health Conference or comparable health conference.

Students wishing to apply should complete the attached application form and return to Hauora Taiwhenua by 1st August 2023.

Rural Student Research Scholarships and BNZ Rural Development Scholarship[10]

Congratulations Jane Taafaki on her Exceptional PhD Thesis!

Thursday, May 11th, 2023 | claly44p | No Comments

Exceptional PhD Theses are awarded when all three examiners of a candidate’s thesis agree that the thesis is among the top 10 per cent of theses examined, so it is with great pleasure to congratulate Jane Taafaki on receiving this accolade!

An exceptional person as well as an exceptional thesis, Jane’s PhD is titled The lived experiences of rural Tuvaluans navigating the Aotearoa New Zealand healthcare system” & her Primary Supervisor was Dr Jude Sligo.

Jane asked participants from Oamaru and Dunedin to record their interactions with the health care system through photovoice – a research method where participants use photographs to illustrate their experiences.  Her findings contribute to the increasing body of Tagata Pasifika health research in New Zealand and will make a positive contribution to improved health outcomes of not only Tuvaluans but by extension other Pasifika peoples in New Zealand.

For more information on Jane & her research see the Otago Bulletin here


Masters Research Opportunity

Wednesday, May 10th, 2023 | claly44p | No Comments

The GCH Rural Health Research Group has an opportunity for a Masters project. The project would suit someone with an interest in rural health, public health or hauora Māori.

Are rural patients disadvantaged in their access to radiation oncology?

Radiation oncology treatment is one of the main treatment options available to treat cancer along with surgery and chemotherapy. About 1/3rd of cancer patients will receive radiation therapy as part of their treatment plan. Radiation treatment can be used as part of a regime to slow cancer growth or the spread of metastases in patients who are being treated with palliative intent – or increasingly can be used as part of curative cancer plan. Previous research has suggested that distance from a palliative care centre influences the likelihood of receiving radiation treatment. There are also differences in the use of radiation treatment by ethnicity. There are currently seven radiation treatment centres in New Zealand located in major urban centres. The Geographic Classification for Health (GCH) provides a classification system where urban is categorised into U1 (most urban) and U2 and rurality is categorised into 3 groups R1, R2 and R3 (most remote). All patients treated with radiation therapy are recorded in a Radiation Oncology Collection (ROC) along with data on the number of treatments, the type of cancer being treated and whether the treatment is aimed as a curative or palliative treatment. This project involves mapping the GCH to the meshblock (small geographic area) containing the ROC patient’s usual address to ascertain whether there are disparities in palliative and curative radiation treatment for rural patients compared to urban patients and whether these disparities exist for Māori and for different cancers.

For more information, please contact:

Prof. Ross Lawrenson, School of Health, Uni Waikato.                 Ross.Lawrenson@waikatodhb.health.nz

Assoc Prof Gabrielle Davie, Preventive and Social Medicine, Uni Otago.      gabrielle.davie@otago.ac.nz

Prof Sue Crengle, Ngāi Tahu Māori Health Research Unit, Uni Otago.            sue.crengle@otago.ac.nz

Prof Garry Nixon, General Practice and Rural Health, Uni Otago.                    garry.nixon@otago.ac.nz

National Travel Assistance Scheme

Friday, February 24th, 2023 | claly44p | No Comments

We are all aware that access to health services in Aotearoa is inequitable especially regarding ethnicity and rurality. The National Travel Assistance Scheme started in 2005 to provide financial help for those having to travel far to receive specialist care. In this literature review, undertaken through an Otago Medical School Deans Research Scholarship, third-year medical student, Lucy Maher, describes what is known about the NTA scheme and identified significant knowledge gaps that pose numerous questions for future research.

Thanks Lucy – great work, enjoy your gap year!

NTA Project Report 2023[81]


Pacific doctor awarded rural health medal

Thursday, September 15th, 2022 | claly44p | 1 Comment

A Pacific doctor and Otago postgraduate student based in the Cook Islands, has been awarded the Dr Amjad Hamid Medal at the 2022 National Rural Health Conference held in Christchurch this month.

Dr Ruonamakin Rui Mafi (known as Dr Makin), who is practising medicine in the Cook Islands, says, “I’m so honoured to receive this award and for having been given the opportunity to study at the University of Otago by the Cook Islands Ministry of Health (Te Marae Ora).”

Dr Makin completed all her Otago study while based in the Cook Islands.

The Dr Amjad Hamid Medal is awarded to the student who achieves the highest grade in the University of Otago’s Cardiorespiratory Medicine in Rural Hospitals postgraduate paper.

The medal honours the memory of Dr Hamid, who was tragically killed in the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks. It is awarded by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners’ Division of Rural Hospital Medicine.  https://www.rnzcgp.org.nz/GPPulse/RNZCGP/News/College_news/2020/New-medal.aspx

Dr Makin was born, raised and schooled in Kiribati and did her medical training at Fiji National University. During her internship she met her (now) husband, Dr Vakaola Mafi from Tonga, at Lautoka Hospital in Fiji. After her internship, Dr Makin worked in the ophthalmology department at Lautoka Hospital. In 2013, the couple decided to move with their young family to the Cook Islands to work and explore opportunities. In the Cook Islands, Dr Makin worked in a range of areas, including emergency and medical wards and obstetrics/gynaecology. She is currently working in primary care, emergency care and medical ward work when required, and also doing some work for the Cook Island Family Welfare Association.

The Cook Islands GP training programme, which includes University of Otago distance taught rural papers as the academic component, was established in 2016. Dr Makin started the rural programme papers in 2019 and has completed the Postgraduate Certificate (Rural and Provincial Hospital Practice). She is now undertaking her third paper (Medical Specialties) and is aiming to complete the Postgraduate Diploma in Rural and Provincial Hospital Medicine. Her ultimate goal is to combine clinical work and research.

Dr Makin says, “Further study has enhanced my clinical knowledge and skills in order to improve the management of our people in the Cook Islands, as well as the wider Pacific community…. A huge thank you to the University of Otago staff, my colleagues and family for their support.”

University of Otago Associate Dean Pacific (Christchurch) Dr Kiki Maoate says, “I congratulate Dr Makin on this wonderful achievement. It is also a great achievement for all the partners in the programme, in particular the Cook Islands Ministry of Health, and for Dr Makin’s family, for all their support….Juggling postgraduate study, especially distance learning, while working as a doctor can be demanding, but hopefully Dr Makin’s success will encourage other Pacific doctors to take this step.”

Note: Dr Makin’s husband, Dr Mafi, was the first Pacific Island-based doctor to be awarded the University of Otago’s Postgraduate Diploma in Rural and Provincial Hospital Medicine. See earlier storyhttps://www.otago.ac.nz/otagobulletin/postgraduate/otago827679.htm

Kōrero by Andrea Jones https://www.otago.ac.nz/otagobulletin/news/otago0233749.html

Good rural hospital 2017

Thursday, June 13th, 2019 | Rory | No Comments

The Qualities of a good rural hospital. A NZ 2017 perspective.

“A rural hospital can be compared to a ketei – whereby like the flax strands, culture, ideology and values are interwoven with systems, workforce, facilities, social and geographical context to become a purposeful provider of rural health care.”

The rural hospital kete: Ruth Upsdell 2017

In 2002 students and faculty of Otago University’s postgraduate rural programme, (then in the Department of General Practice and Rural Health, Dunedin School of Medicine), wrote a document titled ‘The Good Rural Hospital’ which has since been core reading for the paper GENA724: ‘The Context of Rural Hospital Medicine’. The intent in writing this 2017 document was to update the original document given the intervening period of 15 years.

This document was written by the 2017 students and faculty of GENA724 ‘The Context of Rural Hospital Medicine’ paper (now part of the post-graduate rural programme, Department of the Dean, Dunedin School of Medicine) with input from the wider post graduate rural programme faculty.

This is an aspirational document describing the specific role of the hospital as one part of wider rural health services. While recognising that there is and needs to be a wide variation of rural hospitals in New Zealand the document’s focus is on commonalities that define rural hospital practice.

The document (like the 2002 version) is written by doctors and as such represents a significant bias towards the views of the medical team. We acknowledge that other members of the rural hospital team and the community may have a significantly different, but equally important, view of the place of the rural hospital.

Students and faculty of Rural Postgraduate Programme, University of Otago. The Good Rural Hospital: New Zealand 2017 Edition 1. 2017 accessed from: https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/rural/2019/06/13/good-rural-hospital-2017/

Link to The Good Rural Hospital 2017 e1 full text document


Contributions by:

Sue Todd

Ruth Upsdell

Justin Venable

Rory Kennelly

Arwen Bakker

Amanda van Zyl

Jack Haywood

Christina Jenkins

Katherine Orme

Chloe Horner

Rory Miller

Navin Sivalingam

Mafi Vakaola

Isaac Campbell

Katie Smith

Gillian Twinem

Simeon Intal

Garry Nixon

Katharina Blattner

Yan Wong

Mark Smith

Marc Gutenstein

Sampsa Kiuru

Peter Kyriadkoudis

Nina Stupple

Emma Davey

Steve Withington

Trevor Lloyd

Jeremy Webber

Martyn Williamson

Joel Pirini


Nigel Cane