A doctor of Māori heritage has written to 1 NEWS, after seeing an article discussing the entrance pathway for Māori medical school students, and the comments that followed. They asked to remain anonymous. This story was first published Friday August 31.
Hi 1 NEWS.
I’d just like to send you some of my feelings regarding the recent RNZ article about Māori entrance into medical school you published.
Man what an exhausting read those comments were, it’s still amazing to note that inherent racism exists in New Zealand.
Reassuring given that we were one of the first nations to adopt contraception for women, to give women the vote and supported passing the bill for gay marriage - I guess were not as forward thinking as we’d like to think.
Here’s a little background on me. My name's XX, most people call me nurse (you know being a girl and all) but actually I’m a doctor.
I graduated Otago Medical School and am currently working as a surgical registrar. There’s probably a small portion of the crowd who’s had a heart attack by now - yes I’m a GIRL and I’m a DOCTOR, I’m also a GIRL who does SURGERY AND also I’m MĀORI.
I guess you could say that don’t agree with the typical gender/race stereotype.
This argument about Māori entrance into medical school has been around for as long as I can remember and it’s the same people saying the same things over and over again.
Here’s the situation though, nearly none of those people have been to medical school, probably not that many have even been to university, and yet somehow they’ve developed the inherent right to complain about something that A) probably doesn’t affect them and B) they don’t fully understand.
I did an undergraduate degree before applying to medical school. I had good grades (in fact better than some of my non-race-specific colleagues that were accepted).
I applied under the Māori and Pacific Island scheme, I also applied under the rural scheme and got in.
I was never told if it was because I was brown, went to a school in the middle of a farm, or just that I was good enough and you know what? it doesn’t matter a single bit.
One of my classmates on my second day of school piped up saying "must have been easier to get into medical school because you're brown". Turns out I was two grade point averages above his exam results to get into medical school - tell me who deserves to be there out of the two of us now?
The fact of the matter exists that Māori experience a disproportionate burden of disease compared to the general population in New Zealand.
Many Māori also prefer to have Māori practitioners or people who are culturally competent. There’s this thing called equity in society which doesn’t always mean 50/50.
In that respect we must cater to some of our most deprived and most health afflicted populations. Dealing with the health of the most affected populations improves our overall population health and at the end of the day that’s what we in the medical profession are all here for.
People always harp on about the Māori and Pacific entrance as a ‘separate easy route’. Did you all know that there’s a rural entrance programme? Because we need doctors in rural medicine too you know.
I don’t hear a lot of complaints about a special entry route for them but I’m darn sure that it’s easier to change your address than your genetic profile so maybe you want to start paying them some attention too?
The aim of the MAP’s scheme is to facilitate Māori and PI into medical fields. While some call this the ‘easy path’ most are equally, and sometimes more, qualified than their peers.
Just because you're Māori and you’re in med school doesn’t mean you scraped the bottom of the GPA pool - in fact that assumption is just plain disrespectful.
Just to put this in perspective for you I graduated my degree with distinction in two disciplines, I received an award for the highest mark in our final medical school examinations, I was asked to sit distinction exams for nearly all of the faculties in my last year and I got my first pick of hospitals to work at because employees thought I was going to be good at my job.
To say that the only reason I got to be a doctor is because of my ethnicity is actually pretty insulting.
While all this complaining, name calling and distress from the public about an unfounded wave of underqualified Māori doctors goes on I’ve been pretty busy.
I’ve missed both lunch and dinner because I’ve been seeing sick kids and adults in our emergency department. I’ve sat down for approximately the length it takes to wee because my only break today was a toilet stop.
I’ve reviewed my HDU patient, fielded calls from GPs with queries all day and then have just finished my case in theatre for the evening. It’s 11pm as I write this, I’ve been working since 8am and I’ll be on call until 8am tomorrow.
So while you're all complaining and worrying about what sort of mayhem these ‘easy-entry’ doctors are going to cause I’ve just been doing my job.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is you should worry less about how people get to the destination and more about what their like once there.
The colour of your skin, or your gender for that matter, doesn’t influence how successful, compassionate and skilled you’re going to be as a doctor and those are the things the general public should care about.