Rural Health Careers Programme – Hawkes Bay Rural School Visit Report


Isaiah Mansell

It is my pleasure to present what this group did on the Hawkes Bay region trip, visiting six schools over three days – Te Aute College, Havelock North High School, Central Hawkes Bay College, Napier Boys and Napier Girls High School and Iona and Woodford. A presentation was given to each school in the beginning followed by an interactive session for the remainder of the visit. How we split up the groups of tauira depended on the number of students.

The overall outcome of our presentation across all of the schools was good, though it depended again on how interested the students were. For example, our engagement dropped off quite quickly for the boys at Te Aute, contrary to Iona and Woodford, where the engagement was so strong that our presentation took >25 minutes (with questions in between). We quickly realised that the presentation was a taster and that our chances for a positive change would come from our activities.

Adam’s dentistry activity was an alginate impression that yielded mixed reactions. He spoke about some students loving the experience, even if it was a slightly uncomfortable and very confrontational one. Towards the end, he realised it was probably best if the students did the impressions on him so he could bear all the “suffering”, which I think is great because it allowed the students to carry out a very common procedure.










James’ paramedicine activity was CPR. He said the engagement was great, but it was both James’ passion for what he is doing and learning and Nicole’s experience having almost completed her paramedicine degree. Interestingly, I think the engagement was higher for every school in general within the paramedics when Nicole was simply chatting to one person about what she does. We learnt that if one (student) comes, they all come.
Jamila had two dietetic activities. The students were asked to rank supermarket items in terms of how unhealthy they were based on sugar content. I loved this activity as it was very educative, but also allowed the groups to work together and decide. Her second activity was the grip strength test. This test was to show the students a measurement of malnourishment. The boys loved this the most and even got the teachers involved too – specifically at Napier Boys High School. Jamila was unhappy initially with her engagement because she felt she could not connect with the students on a personal level. We all discussed this and realised that students do not need to be educated about the formalities of our degrees, what we do at every step of the way, but why we do it! We needed to be more personal and vulnerable so that the students would reciprocate their vulnerability and attention.

Durrane’s optometry activity debatably engaged the students the most with the three components of her station. The first was a model of the eye in which she asked pop quiz-style questions on anatomy and function, and several students knew a number of the answers. The second component was the colour blindness test, a simple screening test that flagged several students. However, I think her most successful activity was the vision test, where students could assist and be tested alongside Durrane’s instruction. She showed so much passion for how much the students enjoyed every activity.

Finally, Nic and I led the tendon hammer and blood pressure medicine activity. Nic was a very, very good partner to have, having all the medical experience but also speaking to the students in such a captivating way. Even with the students who were disinterested in medicine as a potential career, he managed to engage a vast majority. I think I struggled, in the beginning, to excite the students with such a simple activity, though we modified the activity to test different tendons and include different reflexes. Most of our engagement came from the ones who were either very set on medicine on the fence between studying health in Auckland or Dunedin or wanting to know more about Otago University as a whole. Because of the variation in numbers between each school, we introduced blood pressure in large groups because we could allocate one student to be the patient and one to be the doctor testing blood pressure. Nic and I quickly realised how difficult it is to teach blood pressure to where the students stay interested, but also get somewhat of an accurate reading.

Beyond the school visits, I think it was so advantageous to have someone from the Hawkes Bay region in our group. It made navigation so much easier, and Adam had many amazing sugges

tions for food and sightseeing – Te Mata Peak, Te Mata Waterfalls, Bluff Hill, and Waimarama Beach. It made the experience so much more complete. Our group was so self-sufficient, and we all collaborated extremely well throughout the trip. A special shout-out to Nicole as well – she was our timekeeper and slideshow operator and was very switched on with the itinerary.  She was truly a pleasure to talk to and work alongside and it is no wonder that all the students loved her.


Finally, it was a pleasure talking to Jeremy about his experiences working in a rural hospital and his experiences as a director. We as a group, felt so privileged to have some quality time expanding our understanding of why we are doing what we are doing and what is going on beyond the scenes. In my personal experience, this trip was about experiencing a rural community and seeing whether or not I would like to work in a rural environment. I think it is fair to say that I am very interested in working in a rural community and even following in the footsteps of Nic and doing my 5th year of Medicine in a rural hospital.

Thank you all for allowing us to be part of this special experience. I will definitely be on the lookout for more opportunities to speak to audiences of any age about the importance of rural health, Māori and Pasifika health.