Journal of Primary Health Care Journal of Primary Health Care Society
Journal of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Initial perspectives of New Zealand doctors: developing capacity and a training programme in the Cook Islands

Katharina Blattner 1 , Kiki Maoate 2 , Trevor Lloyd 3 , Elizabeth Iro 4 , Scott Davidson 5 , Mareta Jacob 4

1 Hokianga Health Enterprises Trust, Division of Health Sciences, University of Otago, New Zealand

2 Department of Paediatric Surgery, Christchurch Hospital, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand

3 Dunstan Hospital, Central Otago, New Zealand

4 Cook Islands Ministry of Health, Rarotonga, Cook Islands

5 Dargaville Medical Centre, Dargaville, New Zealand

Correspondence to: Dr Katharina Blattner, Hokianga Health Enterprises Trust, Division of Health Sciences, University of Otago, New Zealand. Email: kati.blattner@hokiangahealth.org.nz, katharina.blattner@yahoo.co.uk

Journal of Primary Health Care - https://doi.org/10.1071/HC16025
Published online: 17 February 2017

Journal Compilation © Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners 2016.
This is an open access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Abstract

From 2012 to 2014, 18 New Zealand general and rural medical practitioners worked in the Cook Islands on a visiting programme to achieve the following objectives: (1) assess and assist with the capacity of the Cook Islands medical workforce; (2) assist with the infrastructure to improve clinical records and audit; (3) assist with developing a General Practice training programme for the Cook Islands; and (4) develop a training post for the Division of Rural Hospital Medicine in the Cook Islands. Each visiting doctor spent a minimum of 4 weeks in the Cook Islands. This study presents the results of a questionnaire undertaken to evaluate their experiences. There were challenges, but for most, the experience was overwhelmingly positive. There were synergies with rural practice in New Zealand. Working alongside local clinicians and being immersed in the Cook Islands health system led to better understanding of the Cook Islands perspective of rural and remote medicine. The findings provide insight into the early phase of an ongoing programme between the Cook Islands Ministry of Health and New Zealand, which has led to the development of a reciprocal training programme for generalist doctors.

KEYWORDS: Pacific communities; Cook Islands; rural medicine; general practice; workforce; health systems


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