Friday, 21 June 2019 12:55

Bridging the gap in rural health care

Written by  Professor Jane Mills, pro vice-chancellor of Massey University’s College of Health
Professor Jane Mills. Professor Jane Mills.

Professor Jane Mills, pro vice-chancellor of Massey University’s College of Health, explains how the future for rural health in NZ is positive.

Little is known about the health of the many New Zealanders who live and work in regions beyond our urban centres.

Partly this is because our definition of what constitutes ‘rural’ does not accurately reflect people’s lived experience. 

But we know that our rural health workforce is ageing and that the demand for renewal is far greater than the supply of new rural health clinicians.

Important to Massey University is the creation of opportunities for students including school leavers and people who might want a second chance career as a health professional. 

Massey specialises in the flexible delivery of courses so that people living in regional NZ can participate without having to move away from family and friends or paid employment.

For example, we offer a new graduate programme for registered nurses in Taranaki and a new master of health science (medical laboratory research) degree course where students’ work environment is regarded as their classroom regardless of where they live. And our School of Nursing graduates nurse practitioners who will make a real impact on the deficits in rural health services.

Through our role on the council of Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa NZ we are also developing solutions and influence policy affecting the health and wellbeing of rural communities. 

Best practice healthcare is delivered by interprofessional teams, with each team member working to the full scope of their role. A key incentive for graduates to return to a rural area and work in these teams is the quality of their clinical experience as a student. 

I am very supportive of the Minister of Health’s plan to set up rural health hubs in selected locations. I am reimagining the student experience to include rich opportunities for learning and teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Creating a physical and cultural environment where the link between rural health research and learning and teaching can be brought to life would benefit the students placed in these hubs and the clinicians working there. A supportive, vibrant clinical learning environment is a magnet for new clinicians thinking about moving to the country. 

Not only will rural health hubs assist with recruiting staff to often under-staffed rural health care facilities, they can also improve the retention of staff and, most importantly, patient safety. Everyone wins when clinicians feel well supported, have ample professional development opportunities and a positive feedback loop on their performance.

The future for rural health in NZ is positive, with a lot of energy and momentum being generated in partnerships between the Government, district health boards, universities and primary health care organisations. Only together can we make a difference to the health and wellbeing of our shared constituents -- the people who live and work in rural Aotearoa. 

• Professor Jane Mills is the pro vice-chancellor of Massey University’s College of Health, researching rural and public health, health workforce and health system strengthening.

More like this

Realising potential of hoggets

Hogget breeding has the potential to improve farm productivity but they take careful management according to Professor Paul Kenyon of Massey University. Peter Burke reports.

Shedding Wiltshire's anti wool appeal

Of all the projects Massey University's School of Agriculture has been involved in over the years, it's never had such interest as it has in its Wiltshire breeding programme.

Students get funding boost

Horticultural and agribusiness companies are dishing out the dosh to encourage students at Massey University to make a career in their sector.

Massey's Wiltshires on show

The interest in the self-shedding Wiltshire sheep has prompted Massey University to run a special field day at their Riverside farm near Masterton on 1 June.

National

Same old story!

NZ International Business Forum executive director Stephen Jacobi says the present FTA negotiations with the UK is depressing, with the…

Mayor slams Shaw's SNA claim

Grey District's mayor is unhappy at the lack of response from government ministers about concerns from West Coast leaders and…

Vets may choose Oz over NZ

Border restrictions are putting a roadblock in the way of getting more veterinarians to New Zealand and some are even…

Machinery & Products

One-pass cultivator moves 70% less soil

According to Kverneland distributor, Power Farming, the KultiStrip system will bring opportunities to farm environmentally, while improving yields and profitability.

Claas buys into bots

German harvesting specialist and tractor manufacturer Claas has acquired a minority shareholding in Dutch start-up company AgXeed, the developer of…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Thanks - not!

OPINION: Your canine crusader reckons one of the few things you can guarantee in farming - a bit like rates…

Careful

OPINION: A mate of the Hound's reckons the PM needs to be a bit careful about who or what she…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter