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The destination of Pacific Island health professional graduates from a New Zealand university

Shiva M Nair1, Prabal R Mishra2, Pauline T Norris3 and Charlotte Paul4*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

2 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

3 School of Pharmacy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

4 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, PO Box 913, Dunedin, New Zealand

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Human Resources for Health 2012, 10:24  doi:10.1186/1478-4491-10-24

Published: 20 August 2012



There is a shortage of health professionals in Pacific Island states and territories, and a need in New Zealand for Pacific health professionals to serve Pacific communities.


A cross-sectional postal survey was conducted to investigate retention of Pacific graduates. All graduates of Pacific ethnicity or nationality from the University of Otago in the years 1994 to 2004 in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, physiotherapy and medical laboratory science were included.


The response rate was 59% (75 out of 128). Only 7% of respondents were working in the Pacific Islands (12% of non-residents and 4% of New Zealand residents), though the proportion in the whole cohort could be up to 20%. One third intended to work in Pacific communities in New Zealand or the Pacific Islands in the future. Factors that would favour such an intention were an adequate income, job availability, and good working conditions.


Retention of graduates in the Pacific Islands is poor and measures to improve retention are needed.

Developing country; Health professional; Migration; Pacific Islands; Workforce