Aims: To report the development of the first Rural Medical Immersion Programme (RMIP) of the University of Otago in New Zealand.
Method: We review medical education trends and challenges for educating New Zealand's doctors and recruiting them to careers in rural practice. We describe key features of the RMIP developed in response to these challenges.
Results: Medical education is evolving from discipline and hospital-based teaching to using more integrated, community-based teaching. The RMIP aims to immerse 5th-year medical students in an integrated, patient-centred, community-based, parallel learning environment where learners' experiences in primary, secondary, and tertiary settings are always based on patient care. Government funding for the RMIP pilot was granted in November 2006 and the first 6 students started in the programme in 2007. Experiences of the programme from 2007-2009 are reported.
Conclusion: The RMIP remains true to the principles underpinning its establishment and has to date delivered successful medical education outcomes for the first 18 students of the 2007 and 2008 cohorts. We cannot yet assess its role in future recruitment to rural medical careers.