Māori health workforce development is an important part of the strategy for improving Māori health and reducing inequalities and Māori doctors are an important part of this workforce. This research aimed to identify the nature and level of contribution made to Māori health by Māori medical graduates from Otago. It further aimed to investigate Māori medical graduate perspectives in relation to their medical education, current work and professional development, expectations and needs as Māori health practitioners.
Māori medical graduates from Otago were surveyed using either an internet-based or postal survey to determine their roles in Māori health and their perspectives. The University of Otago Alumni Database was used to identify this population and contact them. There were 77 respondents in total with 70 completing the questionnaire fully for analysis. A descriptive analysis of the data was undertaken using Survey Monkey, Excel and SPSS. Although mainly quantitative, free-text comments made by participants were also analysed for themes.
There was a 53.4% response rate for the internet survey and a 19.4% response rate for the postal Survey. Respondents reflected a diversity of Māori doctors across gender, age, stage in career, locality of work and roles in Māori health with the overall population being relatively youthful (67% under 40 years). Time spent in Māori health varied with 22% spending 50% or more of their time on Māori health and 44% working in areas of high Māori population. Respondents reported many additional roles in Māori health spanning teaching, public health and leadership roles. The number of roles was greater among senior doctors (mean number 4.75) when compared with junior doctors (1.55). Māori graduates reported high levels of expectations, a need to be culturally and clinically competent and a mixed-experience of colleges, training programmes, work places and medical school.
This research strongly supports the hypothesis that Māori doctors are contributing greatly to Māori health. This contribution includes working in areas of high Māori population, in working with Māori health providers and across a broad range of roles and responsibilities spanning community, professional, leadership, academic, public health and training support roles. The involvement in Māori health is spread across all areas of the Māori medical workforce and appears to begin during registrar training, growing as doctors’ progress in their careers.
Findings from the perspectives of Māori doctors indicate high levels of passion for Māori health, a need for both clinical and cultural competency and high levels of expectation on Māori doctors to be competent in Māori health. Understanding and support of Māori doctors during training, in the Medical Colleges and workplaces varies considerably indicating a positive direction by some Colleges and workplaces however inconsistent progress in meeting the support needs of Māori doctors.
These findings provide a valuable platform for discussion with a range of stakeholders about the needs of Māori doctors and a valuable platform for Māori health practitioner professional development, starting at University.||