ASMS

Working for better health care in New Zealand

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) is the professional association and union uniting doctors and dentists in New Zealand.

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Increase in Māori doctors on the way

11 April 2018 Medical Council of New Zealand

The Medical Council today released the New Zealand Medical Workforce in 2015 Survey.

Mr Connolly says a major highlight of the survey is that the proportion of house officers identifying themselves as Māori increased from 5.4 to 6.1 percent in 2015.

‘While the proportion of Māori doctors for the workforce as a whole is still relatively low compared to the proportion of Māori in the general population, the fact that it has increased amongst our newest doctors bodes well for the future’.

Currently Māori make up approximately 15 percent of New Zealand’s population.

‘Personally, I’m hopeful that in the years ahead the percentage of Māori doctors will reflect the proportion of Māori in the general population. This proportionality is now reflected in our two medical schools’.

Looking out 10 years or even perhaps sooner, Mr Connolly says he believes this goal is achievable.

‘In December 2016, a record number of Māori and Pasifika doctors graduated from both New Zealand medical schools and for the first time, the University of Otago reported ‘Māori representation within the total number of medical graduates equate[d] to the proportion of Māori in the New Zealand population.’

Mr Connolly says the University of Auckland has also reported ‘Māori and Pasifika medical graduates made up about a fifth of the 215 doctors to graduate from their six years of training” and that “[t]his is averaging around 20 to 25 percent of medical students per year now at the University of Auckland which is closer to the population proportion for this age group, and very positive.

‘We now have to wait for this to flow through to the medical workforce.’

Looking to the future, Mr Connolly says the potential increase in Māori doctors has to be good for both Māori and the country.

‘The reality is Māori have some of the poorest health of any New Zealanders.’

Mr Connolly says familiarity with patients’ cultural heritage has been shown to be associated with improved patient care.

‘It’s simple things such as understanding the role of whānau, Māori belief systems and values or tikanga that ultimately will and do make a huge difference to patient outcomes.

‘I’m very optimistic about the long-term future of Māori health.

‘There is obviously a time lag until today’s Maori students become part of the medical workforce and the current health inequities change for the better.’

Mr Connolly says other findings in the survey include:

  • The proportion of New Zealand trained doctors in the workforce is now increasing after steadily decreasing for many years – international medical graduates (or overseas trained doctors) now only make up 40 percent of doctors compared with 42 percent in the previous year.
  • Women doctors make up nearly 44 of the medical workforce and now outnumber men amongst new doctors: 57 percent of house officers and 51 percent of registrars were women.
  • The average number of hours worked per week by doctors is 44.4, up from 43.6 in 2015.
  • On average, doctors working in rural areas tend to be older than those working in urban areas – the average age is 48.1 years in rural areas compared with 44.7 years in urban areas.
  • Furthermore, the average hours worked per week by GPs in rural areas is higher than those in urban areas – 37.2 hours per week in rural areas compared with 33.9 hours per week in main urban areas.