Press Release – NZMSA Concerned by Consequences of the Waikato Medical School

The New Zealand Medical Student’s Association (NZMSA) has significant concerns regarding the ability of the health system to accommodate the increase in medical students proposed by the potential Waikato Medical School.

Read our full position statement here.

NZMSA acknowledges the shortage of rural GPs in hard-to-staff areas that the proposed Medical School aims to address. However, it is not convinced that a third medical school is the most appropriate solution for the New Zealand Health System at present.

“It is undeniable that there is a shortage of doctors in ‘at need’ areas and specialties,” says NZMSA President Kieran Bunn, “however paradoxically there is no shortage of medical students.”

All medical graduates are required to spend at least two postgraduate years working in a hospital. However, both existing medical schools have been increasing their student numbers since 2010, and this has put this system under considerable strain with some domestic students being unable to secure first year jobs in 2016. Without supervised employment straight out of medical school, these graduates are legally unable to progress their training. An increase in medical students from the Waikato Medical School will put further strain on this bottleneck and therefore prevent it achieving its goals for rural communities.

“In 2016, nine domestic students were unable to secure a first year position. Similarly, it is essentially impossible for international students who wish to stay in New Zealand and serve the community who trained them. This is a remarkable waste of the Government investment into training medical students who can’t ultimately find jobs as a doctor in New Zealand.”

Furthermore, NZMSA has concerns that additional students in Waikato will displace University of Auckland medical students currently completing their medical training in the region. Auckland Medical School currently struggles to find community based attachments for all of their students in the Central North Island and the introduction of more students would further restrict the availability of clinical exposure and compromise the quality of existing medical training.

“This proposal has clearly identified a significant problem in the distribution of medical services in New Zealand. However, without considerable investment throughout the health sector, this proposal may simply worsen another problem: the waste of investment in medical graduates who cannot find a job.”