Whakatāne Hospital has been rated New Zealand’s most preferred hospital for first year doctors.

Each year the New Zealand Resident Doctors’ Association (NZRDA) ranks the nation’s hospitals in order of where final year medical students would like to work after qualifying. For the 2019 year Whakatane Hospital took top spot as most preferred employer, with twice as many applicants as positions.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB) Medical Director Hugh Lees said he was delighted to hear the news, adding that there were several reasons frequently given by junior doctors for choosing Whakatāne.

“Whakatāne fosters close working relationships between junior doctors, senior doctors and other staff and provides a wonderful opportunity for a broad range of clinical experience for doctors starting their careers,” said Dr Lees.

“Being a smaller more rurally-based hospital, junior doctors will often be the first person a patient will see and so they will quickly gain valuable experience in diagnosis of complaints.

“Whakatāne is also a new hospital, only being opened in 2014, so is very much a modern working environment.

“It was interesting to note that three out of six new doctors who are due to start working with us soon were involved in our RHIIP (Rural Health Inter-professional Immersion Programme) in 2017. This programme allows healthcare students from a range of disciplines, including medical students, to spend time in the Eastern Bay gaining valuable experience.

“All in all it’s a great place to work with a lot of things going for it,” added Dr Lees. “Whakatāne is a small but growing town and there is definitely still that community feel there. And it’s also the sunshine capital of New Zealand so there is the lifestyle element to consider as well.”

The NZRDA said Whakatane Hospital was well known for its supportiveness of junior doctors from both management and senior doctors.

“There are a number of different factors which influence a doctor’s decision about where to work, including some unrelated to the hospital itself, such as where they want to live,” said NZRDA National Secretary Dr Deborah Powell. “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.”