7 Aug 2015

Working towards more Māori doctors

8:49 pm on 7 August 2015

A Māori health professional who won a postgraduate scholarship to Harvard University aims to provide more health sector employment opportunities for Māori.

Mataroria Lyndon

Mataroria Lyndon Photo: SUPPLIED

Mataroria Lyndon has received a $30,000 postgraduate scholarship from the Rose Hellaby Māori Education Fund.

Dr Lance O’Sullivan

Dr Lance O’Sullivan Photo: SUPPLIED

He will be undertaking a masters degree in public health, majoring in public health and health policy.

Dr Lyndon said, currently, Māori only make up 2.5 percent of the medical workforce yet the health needs of Māori are the highest in the country.

"Getting more Māori into the health profession to become our doctors, our nurses and our health professionals is the aim of my study at Harvard," Dr Lyndon said.

The Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Whatua, and Waikato descendant said he wanted to contribute skills developed at Harvard by taking a lead in health management and inspiring more rangatahi to become health professionals.

Mr Lyndon, who is fluent in te reo Māori, earned a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Auckland in 2011 and a postgraduate certificate in clinical education the following year.

He is currently a candidate for a PhD in medicine (medical education) at the University of Auckland, and is completing his master degree concurrently with the aim of becoming a public health physician.

Dr Lyndon said, as a former student of Tangaroa College in south Auckland, he was motivated to go out into schools to encourage more Māori and Pasifika students to consider a career in his profession.

"After graduating from med school and now that I'm so fortunate to be a recipient of this award - how can I tautoko and support and provide similar opportunities for our rangatahi that I'd had as well? That's a big kaupapa for me."

The 29-year-old said, with his educational opportunities at Harvard University, he hoped to bring that mātauranga or knowledge back to help break down racial health disparities.

He said, as a medical educationalist, he was heavily involved in the recruitment and retention of Māori in health programmes.

"Both New Zealand and US health systems harbour institutional racism, which creates differential access to healthcare.

"My course of study in healthcare management and policy at Harvard University will focus on quality improvement to address health disparities and improve the quality of care for Māori and ethnic minority groups.

"People have said to me, oh Harvard, a dream come true, but for me it's about going over - ki te ako ai i ngā rautaki me ngā mahere - learning what are the strategies, what are the solutions from some of the experts in health in the United States, and what can I fill my kete with and bring back here to strengthen and support and to improve the health amongst our Māori community."

Mr Lyndon said, when he grew up in rural Northland, there was a local Māori general practioner who inspired him to become a doctor.

"Dr Shane Reti is a whanaunga [relative] of mine from Ngāti Wai. He was a GP in Tai Tokerau and was my grandparent's GP.

"He used to do the GP clinics out in Pipiwai from where I'm from and then he went to Harvard as well. He was very much a role model for me and now I'm following in his footsteps".

Dr Lyndon said he would also like to acknowledge [http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/237393/healthcare-champion-is-named-new-zealander-of-the-year high-profile Far North GP Lance O'Sullivan] who enabled him to attend Harvard.

"He was a referee for me for Harvard, actually, so a big mihi to him because his letter of endorsement, his tono went to Harvard to support my application.

"Dr O'Sullivan is a huge poupou [pillar] for our Northland community and has been another big role model for me."

Mr Lyndon is currently a clinical fellow at Ko Awatea Centre of Education at Middlemore Hospital in south Auckland.

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