Proposal for the New Zealand Graduate Entry Medical School at the University of Waikato

The proposal for a New Zealand Graduate Entry Medical School (NZGEMS) takes a community-focused approach to health, selecting students who have already completed a three-year undergraduate degree and providing them with four years of intensive, practical medical education, as opposed to six years at the existing medical schools in New Zealand whose students are predominantly high school leavers.

The proposed community-engaged graduate-entry medical school will focus on selecting students from underrepresented, underserved Māori, Pacific, remote and rural communities who are willing to serve high-needs communities and meet the health care needs of the populations that lives outside the main centres (i.e. small cities, provincial towns and rural areas).

During their education, students will become conversant with the use of modern technologies in providing health care, and will gain practical experience of community-based health and social service partnerships.

The NZGEMS is being proposed in response to health workforce shortages, especially in the provincial and rural primary health care sector where there is a reliance on overseas-trained doctors.

New Zealand currently has one of the lowest ratios of medical schools to population in the OECD, with one medical school for every 2.35 million people, and each year New Zealand imports 1100 doctors to meet health workforce needs. In comparison, Australia has one medical school for every 1.2 million people.

The NZGEMS proposal follows a widely accepted and successful model currently in use in Australia, Canada and other developed countries by focusing on primary care at its core. This approach to medical education will enable the training of a new breed of doctor who will serve the primary health needs of their communities.

Primary care practitioners work across a range of areas, including preventative medicine, chronic disease management, mental health, child health and acute care medicine.

The NZGEMS proposal will be an adaptation of the 2017 Business Case for a Community Engaged Graduate Entry Medical School. NZGEMS will be grounded firmly in the 2021 context with an intentional focus on producing highly skilled doctors who care for high needs populations and are likely to stay serving these communities long-term.

Internationally, the distributed education model has been shown to foster economic development and enhance community capacity that far outweighs the initial government investment. In fact, much of the required funding will be drawn from existing budget allocations. NZGEMS will not only improve access to health care for high needs populations, but also contribute to achieving social and economic equity.

Read the FAQ page here.