I spent a month with the Paediatrics team at Taranaki Base Hospital in New Plymouth, Taranaki District, New Zealand. This is Taranaki Region’s main hospital, in the south west of the North Island. It is a very rural area but stunningly beautiful. As it is sandwiched between Mount Taranaki and the ocean (known as the Surf Highway!) there is a lot to do in this area if you like outdoor activities!
As the only student with the team I was able to join in whatever interested me each day, this included time in the Neonatal unit, on the wards, in clinics, on call in A and E as well as going on rural out reach visits. The team I joined were probably the most welcoming and inclusive team I have ever had the pleasure to be part of, they gave me countless opportunities to get involved in practical procedures, even with the neonates, and were so keen to show me around and introduce me to the area.
Although New Zealand has a very similar health system to our own the rural nature of Taranaki district, and indeed large areas of New Zealand, do create some unique challenges. Many of the children I saw were from farming families and had often travelled several hours to reach us. I thought it was especially interesting how this leads to a lot of air travel as part of medical care, our patients would often arrive by helicopter or be transferred on for high level care in Auckland in one of the countries ambulance planes. Another unique point in this area is the large Maori community. On my first day induction included Maori culture and language as their health attitudes are often vastly different to those of the white communities.
Outside of my time at the hospital I had chance to travel around both the North and South Islands.It is an absolutely beautiful country, with so much to do! Everyone was unbelievably welcoming, enthusiastic and eager to help you out. The only downside is how far away it is, furthermore New Zealand has very limited public transport however so if your time is limited I would recommend hiring a car, New Plymouth is a 7 hour bus ride from Auckland!
Overall though I would thoroughly recommend going, especially if like me you fancy doing a year abroad as part of or after Foundation training to get an idea of what you can look forward to!