Waikato DHB looks to US for workers

NICOLA BRENNAN-TUPARA
Last updated 05:00 08/10/2012

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Waikato's health bosses have flown to the United States to lure clinicians to the region to fill vacant positions which are costing tax payers millions of dollars a year.

The continual battle to fill vacant medical positions saw Waikato DHB fork out $14m on outsourced staff last year - with $6.4 million on locums.

With 57 clinical vacancies currently advertised on the DHB's website, and rural posts struggling to employ staff, the DHB is pulling out all stops to lure potential candidates from overseas.

The DHB has sent three key staff to Denver, Colorado, this week in a bid to entice some of the more than 6000 emergency physicians gathered for the 2012 American College of Emergency Physicians Scientific Assembly to the Waikato.

It's the second year running that Waikato DHB Emergency Department have had a presence at the ACEP conference.

Last year's effort resulted in US physician Mitch Cordover joining the hospital's emergency department team for seven months.

An Official Information Act request by the Times shows the DHB recruited 66 international staff in the last three years to plug the staffing gap - at times paying $30,000 over and above wages to get them here.

Clinical director John Bonning, clinical nurse manager Jenni Yeates and duty nurse manager Jenny Wolfe have headed to Denver with one key message - the Waikato is an "energetic type of place, with people you can talk to easily and become friends with".

They are honing in on New Zealand's title of adventure capital of the world in the hope the some energetic Americans will consider taking a job in the Waikato.

Dr Bonning even became a model in an effort to prove just how fun the Waikato can be.

Dressed in scrubs and posing with a mountain bike, Dr Bonning is just one of several DHB staff to feature on posters to promote the region.

"We want to show Waikato ED as being a fresh, individual, energetic type of place, with people you can talk to easily and become friends with," DHB spokeswoman Bee Pears said.

"We hope the unusual images will make passing doctors take a second glance. It's a very Kiwi look. It's fun and it's different."

Conference attendees with smart phones will also be able to use the QR code on the banners to link directly to web pages specially created for the campaign.

“But the biggest asset at the stand will be John, Jenni and Jenny - they are the ‘real deal' and will be doing a great job to inspire doctors to come here.”

Mrs Yeates said said while they'd love to entice doctors to migrate to the Waikato permanently, they'd be happy if they just came for a year or so.

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“Maybe they decide to stay longer or maybe not, but if they love it they will tell others about us and so our pool of recruits will grow.”

- Waikato Times

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