Graduation fears for students

Deborah Powell
Deborah Powell
More than 60 University of Otago medical students have come forward after an overseas placement rort was uncovered.

A university investigation has already found 15 final year medical students used their overseas placements to go on holiday in Eastern Europe, and then lied about it.

On Saturday, the University of Otago asked all trainee interns to speak up if they thought they may have done something untoward on their placement.

Many came forward, but Resident Doctors' Association national secretary Dr Deborah Powell said the figure did not show the true picture, with students mostly reporting concerns about sick leave or time taken to reach their placements.

Only a couple of students appeared to have falsified papers or done something similarly serious, she said.

However, students were stressing because they could not start their new jobs if they had not graduated and were not registered as doctors, she said.

The university has yet to confirm whether the students will be eligible to graduate in a couple of weeks' time, and declined to answer questions yesterday, saying a statement would be released today.

"They're very distressed. These are very hardworking, honest, dedicated people. They've committed six years of their lives training to be doctors and expected to graduate and start work in a couple of weeks so the uncertainty is incredibly stressful and unsettling for them," Dr Powell said.

"We don't have much time. These people are due to commence work on November 25 - that's Monday week. In that time, they have to be graduated and then they have to be registered by the Medical Council so it's a pretty tight turnaround."

The association understood the university might not make its decision on the fate of the students until next Friday, she said.

"That means that the Medical Council will not be able to get those people registered before they're due to start."

The New Zealand Medical Students' Association declined to comment when contacted by the Otago Daily Times yesterday, its president, Fraser Jeffrey, saying he did not want to say anything until the university had finished looking into the issue.

Mr Jeffrey, who attends the University of Otago's Christchurch campus, said he was not one of the students under investigation.

All final-year medical students at the university undergo a three-month elective, which can be undertaken in New Zealand or overseas. Often, students undergo two placements of five or six weeks at a time, in different locations.

They receive a government grant of $26,756 for the entire year. However, if travelling overseas, they fund their airfares themselves, and they are not paid by the institutions in which they choose to work.

A university spokeswoman said the 15 students already found guilty of academic misconduct would have to repay their grant at a rate of about $500 per week they had taken off.

 - Additional reporting RNZ

Comments

""They're very distressed. These are very hardworking, honest, dedicated people. They've committed six years of their lives training to be doctors and expected to graduate and start work in a couple of weeks so the uncertainty is incredibly stressful and unsettling for them," Dr Powell said."

Honest !!! They have been caught defrauding their grant and falsifying their work / study record.
I'm sure they are distressed. No one likes being exposed cheating and lying but mostly people with a misplaced sense of entitlement don't like losing that entitlement.
The medical profession are members of NZs elite. They will receive special privileges and high pay. They will be considered trusted people within our society.
Dr Powells attitude to this issue, that it is all about their expectations and entitlement goes to the heart of the problem.
White collar crime and corruption does enormous damage to a society.
Just because these students have tax payer funded jobs to step into before they graduate doesn't mean that everything else is of less importance.
These people are positioned to step onto a financial gravy train and already they have spat on it.

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