9 Feb 2012

Med students required to live with Pacific family

8:06 am on 9 February 2012

Trainee doctors at Otago University are being required to learn real-life lessons in Pacific health by spending a weekend with a Pacific Island family.

About 260 medical students enrol at Otago each year. But Associate Dean for health sciences Fa'afetai Sopoaga says few of the students know anything about Pacific Island people.

She says the immersion programme gives the future doctors an insight into Pacific family life and health that they can't get from lectures.

Dr Sopoaga says the programme is now compulsory at Dunedin medical school. It could be extended to Christchurch and Wellington and to other health disciplines.

Dean John Adams says the immersion programme fits well with the Medical Council's new guidelines to doctors for treating patients from Pacific Island cultures.

Dr Adams says other tertiary institutions could benefit from immersion teaching of Pacific health.