The University of Waikato welcomes the announcement by the National Party that if the Party is successful in this year’s General Election it will establish New Zealand's third medical school.
“This is a fundamental step towards addressing our health workforce needs and reducing our chronic reliance on importing our health workforce from overseas,” University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley says. “The University of Waikato has consistently made the case for investment in a third medical school to meet the current and future workforce needs of our health sector. We are committed to establishing a medical school based here in the Waikato region but with partners in other parts of New Zealand, as well as to building a full range of allied health programmes.”
Professor Quigley says a third medical school will provide a long-term solution to the relentless growth in demand for doctors, most keenly felt in General Practice and Psychiatry and in medical practices outside the main urban centres. “The third medical school will put us on the pathway to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on importing doctors from other countries, which is unsustainable.”
“New Zealand cannot hope for better health workforce outcomes if we keep doing the same thing over and over. We need more doctors in training, we need to select students from a wider range of backgrounds who are committed to long-term careers in primary care outside the main centres, we need to place these students in the regions they are most needed and we need a new curriculum that will prepare for a workforce consistent with the future demands of New Zealand’s health system. The University of Waikato is committed to achieving all of these things.”
Professor Quigley says the University would establish the New Zealand Graduate School of Medicine in partnership with other New Zealand universities. It would select up to 120 students who have already completed an undergraduate bachelor's degree and provide them with four years of intensive, practical medical education. This graduate-entry model is used by the very best medical schools internationally and is highly successful.
He says the University of Waikato has been building its capability in health and is proud of the success of its newly-established nursing programme, with the student intake increasing from 40 in 2021 to more than 210 in 2023, in response to severe staff shortages in the region’s health workforce.
The University is also currently developing programmes for other health professions in direct response to stakeholder needs within the region and the country.
Professor Quigley says the University of Waikato is well placed to deliver a new and more socially accountable medical school and it has the widespread stakeholder support to do so.