IPE Students gather at Rongopai Marae

8 March 2018

Students studying multiple health disciplines gathered at Rongopai Marae early in the week for an IPE Noho Marae programme that focuses on Maori and rural health. The group was made up of students from three inter-professional education programmes (IPE) in Tairāwhiti, Wairoa and Whakatane.

The idea of the IPE was to attract students back to the regions and the focus is on rural health, Māori health and interprofessional practices, said Wairoa’s clinical nurse manager Sonya Smith.

Five students make up the Wairoa contingent — a medical student, a student of occupational therapy, two pharmacy students and a student studying for a degree in oral health. In Wairoa, the students live in a former nurses’ hostel, the Gisborne students live in accommodation at Gisborne Hospital and in Whakatane the students stay in houses in the community.

Sharing reflections and opinions

Living together is an integral part of the programmes, as it means the students could share their reflections and opinions, she said.

“We also want them to have fun together and get to know each other,” said IPE administrator Rose Schwass. The group visited Rere Falls and enjoyed leisure time before the programme began.

The programme can include up to nine disciplines (medicine, nursing, dental, occupational therapy, oral health, physio, dietetics, pharmacy and social work) and this year in Whakatane there are some students of paramedicine as well as midwifery.

It has been running for six years and so far 36 students have come back to the area to take up jobs in their chosen fields. Community projects are an important part of the IPE, allowing students to give something back to the community. One project done by students last year was the creation of Tu Mahi, a workplace wellness feedback tool. Another project was the production of a sexual health resource targeted at sexually active people from 12-25 years of age.

The group was welcomed on to the marae with a waiata and a kapa haka performance. It is a special cultural experience with a large part of the programme focused on Māori health strategies and Māori concepts relating to health and wellbeing.

Taina Ngarimu was acting as cultural adviser to the group and they also had Māori spiritual healer Wiremu Niania address them yesterday, said programme leader Dr Patrick McHugh.

The Tairāwhiti IPE is affiliated with the University of Otago. A lot of students have not had much contact with Māori, so it was especially meaningful for them, he said.

Visiting Norwegian professor Bente Norbye addressed the group and talked about the similarities between Norway and New Zealand. Ms Norbye works in the faculty of health sciences at The Arctic University of Norway UiT. Her visit is mainly for research and observation of how IPE is delivered here. She is here for five months working out of Wellington as a visiting academic and healthcare educator.

The skills she teaches there are transferable, such as learning to work together with other medical professions and being creative in finding the right solutions. “In the rural sector it is about building relationships and being trustworthy.”