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Interprofessional training programme has positive spin-offs

Liane Topham-KindleyTuesday 06 December 2016, 9:27AM
Interprofessional training  programme has positive spin-offsRunning 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 community. 

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 his mind. 

"It's cool here, all the staff make it and David's a great boss." 

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 Moore says. 

Aaron Lim with patient

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 contrast really." 

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 year. 

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 the patients." 

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 programme. 

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 providers.


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