Research role for outgoing Pou Whirinaki

22 August 2019

Dr Rāwiri Keenan has stepped down from the role of Pou Whirinaki at the College to focus on his research into cultural competency and equity in primary healthcare.

The project is being funded by the Health Research Council which has awarded Rāwiri the Foxley Fellowship, a career development award worth more than $200,000, and aims to complete work the College committed to doing through its 2017 Māori Health strategy, He Ihu Waka, He Ihu Whenua, He Ihu Tangata.

He will be carrying out the work as part of a partnership with the College and the University of Waikato, where Rāwiri is a Senior Fellow.

“The research aims to shine a light on what’s happening in general practice across the country, so we can take stock of where we are and identify where change is needed,” says Rāwiri. “It isn’t about pointing fingers, it’s about sharing what is being done and reflecting on that.

“When I started out, I didn’t have any specific goals as such, just a desire to help build the numbers of Māori GPs and give them the support I experienced coming through,” 

“The College aims to continuously improve the Aiming for Excellence GP training programme and the results of this inquiry will enable it to identify where there is work to be done.

“There will be some challenging conversations, of course, but we are looking to be self-critical, not judgmental. We don’t know what we don’t know and this research programme aims to go some way to rectifying that.”

The project will review reports made by GPs and practice staff as part of practice accreditation detailing how their obligations for ongoing training and education in the areas of Cultural Competence and Treaty of Waitangi training are being fulfilled. Rāwiri will also be looking at the Māori health and cultural competency content included in the GP training programme for young registrars.

“When you look at patient outcomes, current training doesn’t seem to be going far enough. The work I will be doing will inform future recommendations on what is required to enable primary health care teams to deliver equitable levels of patient care,” says Rāwiri.

Rāwiri says he has enjoyed his five years as Pou Whirinaki at the College encouraging young Māori graduates to join the GP training programme, providing support to young Māori GPs and helping them link into networks across the country.

“When I started out, I didn’t have any specific goals as such, just a desire to help build the numbers of Māori GPs and give them the support I experienced coming through,” he says. “It was a good time to step into the role as the College’s new Māori strategy was developed not long after, with tangible deliverables and timelines which provided more clarity and focus to the issue of Māori doctor numbers.

“Its been a real privilege seeing young registrars go from hospital doctor to Fellows of the College and working with some really passionate educators as they pass on their skills and expertise,” says Rāwiri.

He is looking forward to being able to contribute to the kōrero and kaupapa around doing better for Māori patients, but is quick to point out that the focus of his research doesn’t negate the efforts already being made.

“It’s very easy  for GPs to feel moaned at and feel like they are being told that they aren’t doing enough but that really isn’t the case and there have been some real gains made in this area,” he explains. “We know people are trying and we are coming at this very much from a place of wanting to build on what we’ve got so we can all do better.”

“Its been a real privilege seeing young registrars go from hospital doctor to Fellows of the College and working with some really passionate educators as they pass on their skills and expertise”

The project will take two years to carry out, with the results being released in 2021.

Missed our conference this year?

Check out keynote speaker Prof Gregory Phillips’ presentation on Cultural safety, racism and power in aboriginal health.