The most popular choice for first year doctors in 2019 – with two applicants vying for each junior doctor vacancy – is Whakatane Hospital, says the Resident Doctors Association.

The NZRDA has congratulated the Bay of Plenty DHB hospital after analysing the ranking preferences from final year medical school students for which hospital they want to start their career in, compared to the number of vacancies available. That put Whakatane at the top for 2019, Whanganui at bottom at 20th and Waikato, ranked 17th, as the lowest of the tertiary level hospitals.

Dr Deborah Powell, National Secretary of the NZRDA acknowledged there were a number of factors, including where 1st year resident medical officers (RMOs) want to live, that influence application numbers beyond a hospital’s reputation.

 “Nonetheless, factors such as employer compliance with employment terms and conditions, safer rostering practices, appropriate training and supervision – are hugely significant to our new graduates.”

She said it was not surprising to the union that Whakatane and the close second hospital Rotorua were the most popular work places as both were well known for their management’s and senior medical officers’ supportiveness of RMOs.  Powell added that the top two, along with third ranked Nelson, had all adopted the RDA negotiated safe rosters ‘promptly’.  The RDA are currently negotiating the first RMO collective agreement since the new rosters were adopted following strike action.

Powell said the union was ‘equally unsurprised’ at Whanganui’s ranking (with only one applicant putting Whanganui as their first choice for the seven graduate places) and said this reflected “Whanganui’s unsupportive management approach and failure to implement their single safer roster”.

Whanganui DHB’s chief medical officer Frank Rawlinson disagreed saying that the DHB provided training support ‘well beyond’ what was agreed to in the MECA and supervision and contact from senior doctors was ‘unparalleled’.  He said the DHB has two of its three RMO rosters had been resolved with RDA and the planned date for implementing the third roster was late November this year.  Rawlinson also added that RMOs tended to choose the hospital where they had done their TI year and the DHB had entered into an agreement with Otago University to have Tis spend most or all of their TI year at Whanganui from next year onwards.

Powell said Waikato was the lowest ranked tertiary DHB for the second consecutive year and NZRDA believed this was due to the “ongoing high workloads of RMOs at Waikato and again the slow uptake of safer rosters”.

Waikato DHB responded in a statement by saying it did not share NZRDA’s interpretation of the new graduate ACE placement data.  “We note that out of a total applicant pool of 533 applicants, almost 40% of those graduating doctors ranked Waikato Hospital in their top 5 out of the 20 hospitals for positions, as well as almost 65% indicating that they would be interested in a position with us.”

It also added that while Hamilton did not have the benefit of having either a medical school or the population of Wellington or Christchurch it did not have any difficult filling postgraduate entry positions and “continue to offer an improved and dynamic training centre”.

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