First winner of Maori surgeon scholarship

The scholarship was introduced to address the lack of Maori surgeons.
The scholarship was introduced to address the lack of Maori surgeons.

Ear, nose and throat trainee Dr James Johnston is the inaugural recipient of a Royal Australasian College of Surgeons scholarship aimed at increasing the number of Maori surgeons.

Dr Johnson, who is doing PhD studies at Auckland University, will receive $20,000 to help him complete his surgical training.

The funding will also support his research into the disparities between Maori and non-Maori in respect of diseases of the ear, nose and throat.

Dr Johnston notes that, while it is assumed from past studies that Maori people suffer from higher rates of such diseases, there is no literature that aims to understand why that is.

He hopes to demonstrate that there has to be greater focus on improving infrastructure and environmental factors.

The RACS says the scholarship, backed by health company Johnson and Johnson, is needed because of the disparity between the number of Maori and non-Maori surgeons.

Fewer than 10 surgeons who are RACS fellows identify as being of Maori decent, while there are more than 800 surgeons practising in New Zealand.

The college has established a similar scholarship in Australia for trainees who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

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