Med students caught in crisis


Three “responsible and respectable” medical students are unable to find a house together because of Queenstown’s housing crisis.

University of Otago rural medical immersion programme director Dr Branko Sijnja says the students have found individual accommodation but want to live together.

The immersion year is an intense experience and worked best when students support each other. Study commitments continue while the trainee doctors work in a clinical setting.

In their fifth year of study, the students are encouraged to become part of the community during their stay.

They arrived last month and stay on placement until October.

The students spend about half of their time working in hospital and the rest in general practice.

Sijnja: “They have really tried hard to find places. There’s queues for houses … they have got about six or seven people ahead of them.

“These are trainee doctors. They are older than the average students.

“They certainly are responsible and respectable people.”

Sijnja says the cost of the resort’s accommodation is also a problem. The students are not paid a wage while on the programme.

“I think this situation illustrates the problem Queenstown’s got,” he says.

Catalyst Trust chairwoman Cath Gilmour, who is also a district councillor, says the situation highlights the extent of Queenstown’s housing crisis, and many others also struggle to find suitable accommodation.

She hopes new affordable housing projects will be initiated under fast-tracked special housing areas but it will take time.

Otago Daily Times