Innovative Tairāwhiti programme scores well
A new study has shown that a rural health professional programme on the East Coast of the North Island near Gisborne is
highly successful for students, patients and the local community.
The study just published in BMC Medical Education demonstrates the enormous strengths and benefits of the Tairāwhiti Interprofessional Education (TIPE) programme. Run by
the University of Otago, Wellington and others, the TIPE programme has now been going for nearly five years.
Associate Professor Sue Pullon, Director of the TIPE programme and study leader, says these findings are critically
important, because they show that rurally based inter-professional education in New Zealand can successfully meet
multiple objectives within the five-week programme, more so than traditional education within each individual
“Dental, dietetic, medical, nursing, pharmacy and physiotherapy students together gain rich practical experience working
closely with Māori patients and whānau, and contribute to the community with their education projects,” says Associate
Professor Sue Pullon, from the University of Otago, Wellington.
In the study, TIPE students were surveyed before and after participating in the programme, and compared to a
corresponding group of classmates who did not attend the programme. TIPE students were significantly more able to work
well with each other, understand rural health and Hauora Māori (a unique philosophy of health and wellbeing) and were
more confident in caring for people with chronic long term conditions.
“In today’s health care world, learning to practice collaboratively, and work in a wide variety of health care settings,
are essential clinical skills, and this programme equips senior students to transition successfully to their new health
practitioner roles,” says Dr Pullon.
“These senior health professional students not only enjoy their experiences in the TIPE programme, but also learn
practical skills for working in health care teams in rural New Zealand,” she says.
Funded by Health Workforce NZ, TIPE is a joint programme run by the University of Otago, Eastern Institute of Technology
and Hauora Tairāwhiti DHB, in conjunction with its Whakatane-based counterpart (University of Auckland, Bay of Plenty
DHB). TIPE has been running since 2012.
By the end of 2016, 312 final year students from eight health professions will have come together in successive 5 week
rotations to complete the TIPE programme.
Dr Patrick McHugh, local academic TIPE leader and co-author of the study, and long-time champion for the rural health
workforce, says he is delighted to see an increasing number of TIPE graduates return to the region to work in intern
positions or permanent roles.
Pullon S, Wilson C, Gallagher P, Skinner M, McKinlay E, Gray L, McHugh P. Transition to practice: can rural
interprofessional education make a difference? A cohort study. BMC Medical Education 2016; 16:154. DOI
Find more information about the TIPE programme here