Reversing medical brain drain in New Zealand

A University of Otago fellowship is helping to reverse the brain drain by offering incentives to attract medical graduates back to New Zealand following postgraduate overseas study.

The McKenzie Medical and Surgical Repatriation Fellowship is being offered to the "brightest and best" graduates to enable them to take up teaching and clinical positions while continuing their research in New Zealand.

"This Fellowship is entirely due to Farquhar McKenzie and his wife Josephine," says University Vice-Chancellor Dr Graeme Fogelberg. "The University will benefit and the people of Otago and New Zealand will continue to benefit from this over the years to come. It is uplifting to see people in our community with the generosity and spirit to give so much back.

"The Fellowship is part of the University's Advancement Programme 'Leading Thinkers', which is designed to enhance the performance of the University through a set of projects, all investments in the human capital of the University. The Programme has attracted Government support through its Partnerships for Excellence policy, which matches private donations dollar for dollar.

"Many of the brightest and best graduates go overseas to undertake postgraduate study and establish their own reputation in the international medical research field. This Fellowship is the first step, and a very important one, in encouraging the graduates to return to New Zealand to continue their research career while holding teaching and clinical positions at Otago. The aim is to provide the graduates with the same high profile research opportunities as they would get overseas."

The inaugural McKenzie Medical and Surgical Repatriation Fellow is Dr Julian Hayes, who has come to Otago from Australia to research the cost of keyhole colon-rectal surgery and work in Dunedin Hospital.

"During my three year fellowship I will be looking into the costs of carrying out keyhole colon-rectal surgery as it's a contentious issue," says Dr Hayes. "Some people feel it's too expensive in terms of surgery time and equipment used, but in fact, many patients are in hospital for up to four days less than they would be after normal surgery. There is often less pain and fewer complications afterwards as well."

Few hospitals in New Zealand carry out colon-rectal keyhole surgery so it's hoped Dr Hayes' experience and research will help to shed more light on the pros and cons of the procedure.

Mr Farquhar McKenzie says he donated the money to the University because "I had enough money for my family and wanted to give something back to the province where I made my salt". He was also "very grateful" for the major operation he had in Dunedin Hospital several years ago.

To launch the McKenzie Medical and Surgical Repatriation Fellowship, the University of Otago's Vice-Chancellor, Dr Graeme Fogelberg, will host a function on Tuesday 25th May for the McKenzies, Dr Hayes, Dunedin School of Medicine staff, and other University representatives.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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