Liane Topham-KindleyTuesday 06 December 2016, 9:27AM
Running a health clinic at the local marae was all part of the experience for Aaron Lim (left) and his peers participating in the interprofessional rural education training programme. Other students are (from left) Rasela-Joy Faleatua (physiotherapist), Gray Burnett (pharmacist), Sami Cotton (registered nurse) and Thomas Chung (dietitian)
Pharmacist Aaron Lim enjoyed his training experience
in the Tairawhiti region so much, he jumped at the chance to return
there to work fulltime.
Aaron was one of several final-year pharmacy students
who participated in the University of Otago's interprofessional
rural education training programme in Gisborne in 2013.
The following year, he began working at David Moore
Pharmacy in the town, where he spent two and-a-half weeks on
placement during the interprofessional education (IPE) programme.
The programme enables pharmacy, nursing, medical,
physiotherapy, dietetics, dental and oral health, and occupational
therapy students to train and work alongside each other in a rural
Aaron particularly enjoyed the opportunity to learn
about other health professions.
"It was really interesting to get to see what people
do, you don't get those sorts of chances, I was very lucky to get
into the programme."
He spent half of his five weeks at David Moore
Pharmacy and the other half at Gisborne Hospital working alongside
medical, nursing, physiotherapy and dietetics students.
Aaron is a city boy. Born in Auckland, he spent most
of his life growing up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and admits it
wasn't easy making the transition from a big city to a rural area
to work full time.
While working in a rural area was not something he
had contemplated prior to the IPE programme, the experience changed
"It's cool here, all the staff make it and David's a
It is easy to get to know the other health
professionals in the community, Aaron says, and he regularly
liaises with local GPs about patients' medications.
Pharmacist David Moore has been hosting students
since the programme began and believes it is a positive experience
for both students and the pharmacy.
"It's an opportunity for them to come here and
experience what a provincial area like Gisborne is about, from a
work experience it challenges their thoughts for the future and
maybe they contemplate spending some time in an area like this," Mr
Aaron Lim with patient
"Aaron is a real example of this, he's gone from
Auckland to Kuala Lumpur to Dunedin to Gisborne - it's quite a
Aaron is not alone in returning to the rural
hinterlands following a positive rural experience.
Intern pharmacist Ish (Ismail) Sediqi is working at
Wairoa Pharmacy this year, after enjoying his IPE experience last
The IPE programme is voluntary for final-year
students. Those attending have the dual challenge of not only
keeping up with learning, assessment and placement activities
throughout the Tairawhiti region, but also continuing to study the
curriculum being delivered at the School of Pharmacy.
Mr Moore has been impressed with the students'
ability to communicate with patients.
"The one thing we have found is that you must let
them get 'hands-on', let them do the stuff that you are doing, so
they can actually experience what the job is all about.
"What we have found surprising is how confident these
students are and how willing they are to get out there and talk to
IPE professional practice fellow and Tairawhiti DHB
pharmacy team leader Marty Kennedy says the interprofessional
learning is one of the most valuable aspects of the
Introduced in 2013, the programme has evolved, mainly
because organisers have recognised students learn so much by
working and living alongside students from other fields. Last
year occupational therapy students were introduced into the
programme for the first time, and currently organisers are
investigating including social workers.
Students spend about half of the
time in their own clinical area, some time in the classroom with a
focus on long-term health conditions and collectively working with
the other students on a community health project with local health