The Fono

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Pacific GPs on the Rise

The Fono is supporting young Pacific General Practitioners (GPs) to become Fellows of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) through the general practice education programme (GPEP). 

GP and Clinical Director of The Fono, Dr Luisa Fonua-Faeamani, says GPEP training brings benefits to patients, the organisation and the doctors concerned.

“It teaches the skills required to become a good GP,” says Dr Luisa.

“When I finished my exams with the College I felt I was better prepared, which made me more confident. We don’t have a lot of Pacific GPs in New Zealand, and we need more, so supporting those coming through is important.”

A GP registrar is a qualified doctor with several years' experience undertaking advanced training in the vocational scope of general practice. They work closely with the Royal New Zealand College of GPs (RNZCGP) in supervising.

Dr Lina Yangot is a GP registrar based at the Fono in Henderson.

The training to become a Fellow involves a stint at a practice which can be over a year or split into two six-month terms at separate clinics.

To achieve her fellowship in 2007, Dr Luisa spent six months at a clinic in Mangere and six in Northcote. Having practised in Tonga, (where she is from), and at another Pacific clinic in Auckland, Dr

Luisa says the difference to her experience in Northcote on Auckland’s North Shore was “an eye opener”.

“With the two practices catering to different populations, you learnt they deal with completely different issues,” she says.

The experience left Dr Luisa more determined than ever to focus on the high-needs Pacific population.

“As a Pacific GP and host doctor you notice the younger Pacific trainees feel more comfortable. It’s a good way of exposing them to our population,” she says.

“Language helps, but being Pacific gives you an understanding culturally of what goes on at home,” she says.

“For example, in terms of food, you have to understand what is available at home and explain the best way to eat it for nutritional value and the amount to eat. You also have to understand the importance of the church to them and work around it the best you can. Understanding where they come from, culturally, is key to patients understanding why and how they can improve their health.”

GPEP registrars have an array of educational tools at their disposal, including:

  • One-on-one GP teacher supervision
  • Seminars and workshops
  • Learning Zone online modules and discussion forums
  • Peer support
  • Video reviews and patient feedback
  • College support through the GPEP programme team

The number of Pacific GPs becoming Fellows of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners is on the rise.

In July six Pacific female GPs were inducted and College President Dr Tim Malloy says it marks a significant milestone for the organisation.

“The College is committed to ensuring the GP workforce reflects New Zealand’s population and we are pleased to welcome this cohort of Pasifika doctors as College members,” says Dr Malloy.

“Fellowship is the culmination of a minimum of 11 years’ work – this typically includes six years’ medical study, two years’ prevocational training and three years completing the College’s General Practice Education Programme. It’s a significant achievement.”

More information 

Contact us to talk about our GPEP Programme