Summer students support important research at Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals | Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand | Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty

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Summer students support important research at Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals

11 January 2021

There are 19 new faces around Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals this summer thanks to an annual Summer Studentship Programme.

Summer students support important research at Tauranga and Whakatāne hospitals
Eleanor Hughes (left) started working at Whakatāne Hospital as a junior doctor in late 2018 after being both a summer student, and medical student, at the hospital.

The programme, facilitated by the BOP Clinical Campus, gives medical students from across New Zealand an opportunity to study topics in the hospital environment with supervision and support from clinicians.

University of Auckland student Andrew Weston is assisting with research into rates of secondary primary malignancy in patients with existing chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. The soon-to-be fifth-year medical student, who has a degree in biomedical science, said his placement was a “great opportunity to use both degrees to help with research in an area I am passionate about”.

Being in the Bay was also a huge bonus he added: “My family is here now so I really want to start immersing myself in this medical community.”

Students in this year’s programme come from the University of Auckland, University of Otago, Canterbury University and University of Waikato. They are typically medical students who work on a 5 or 10-week project during their summer semester break. This year the students are completing projects in areas such as surgery, mental health, women’s health and public health.

Andrew WesternAndrew Weston is thrilled to be placed at Tauranga Hospital for the Summer Studentship Programme this year.

Research topics include:

  • Evaluation of Factors Leading to Asthma Presentations in ED
  • Gender Dynamix Pilot Outcomes - An Evaluation of Collaborative Transfer of Care to Trans and Non-Binary Youth from Secondary to Primary Health Services
  • WIRED - Whānau Intervention for Reducing Risk Factors for Dementia

Several former summer students have subsequently found work at the Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB).

Whakatāne Hospital Senior House Office Eleanor Harvey completed a Summer Studentship with Obstetrician Dr Thabani Sibanda in the summer of 2017/2018 – at the end of her medical school training.

“I gained some excellent experience in an area of quality improvement; something which we have little exposure to at medical school, and I worked with a range of clinicians who were keen to see change in the quality of care provided at Whakatāne Hospital,” she said. “Thabani was an excellent source of guidance and supervision. Also, I was able to spend a glorious summer in Ohope which is always hard to beat.”

Eleanor’s project was to survey a range of clinicians involved in obstetric care and use a Delphi method (a research tool for finding consensus amongst a group) to create a set of Quality Indicators against which the performance of the maternity unit could be measured.

Her time in Whakatāne, as both a medical and summer student, led Eleanor to accepting a role as a junior doctor at Whakatāne Hospital in late 2018, and she has been there ever since.

The Summer Studentship Programme has been available at the BOPDHB since 2009, due to funding provided by sponsors such as Bay of Plenty Medical Research Trust, Grace Hospital and Venturo Ltd. The students work provides invaluable assistance with research to improve health outcomes.