According to the Tumuaki of the Māori Medical Students Association Chayce Glass, the lifetime limit for student loans is hindering the ability of some Māori medical students to graduate with a degree. They say a cap of eight years should be removed and if it isn't, it will lead to having less Māori doctors.
Kera Sherwood-O'Regan is a current medical student at The University of Auckland trying to complete her degree. She says that unless the cap is lifted on student loans, she and many other students like her will struggle.
“We would like to see the loan cap lifted because I think it’s important for us to have diversity in our future health work force and I think that really does include students who have come through graduate programmes, bridging courses like myself. I did Hikitia te ora, the certificate of health science. That all contributes to students actually breaching the cap that’s currently in place.”
Sherwood-O'Regan believes the government should enable students to complete their degrees to realise their dreams and contribute to their communities.
“If you think about it half a doctor isn’t much use to the government or tax payers. Half a doctor isn’t going to cure your diabetes or heart disease or protect our tamariki from rheumatic fever so it seems to me like the government is actually undercutting their own investment by not following through, by not letting us finish so that we can actually go and work in the community.”
Sherwood-O'Regan firmly believes that Māori doctors are an asset to the health sector. She says, “I think Māori are affected disproportionately by a number of illnesses, by a number of health conditions. I think we don’t have enough Māori people in the medical workforce as it is so we really need to make sure that we’re sending out Māori graduates who can actually serve our communities effectively, to be culturally competent and really provide those services to our people.”