University of Auckland, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

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The University of Auckland's Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences (formerly known as The University of Auckland School of Medicine.) was established in 1968 at its present site in Grafton, Auckland. Prior to this, the University of Otago had taught some students from the final years of its medical course in Auckland through a branch faculty of the Dunedin School of Medicine.


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A student organised lecture outdoors, at fresher's camp

All undergraduate students "combined first year" which is largely based on the city campus, but from that time on, almost all class room teaching is done in Grafton.

The pre-clinical building is on the opposite side of Park road to Auckland Hospital in Grafton, beside the Auckland Domain. The name of the building reflects the historical pre-dominance of medicine within the faculty - the three years before a medicine student begins doing their 'rounds' (practical in hospitals) are known as the 'pre-clinical' years.

The faculty also has substantial offices in Auckland Hospital, and a smaller presence in Middlemore and Waikato hospitals. A system of underground rooms and tunnels extends between the Grafton Pre Clinical building, Auckland hospital and Starship Children's Hospital, much of it under Park Road. This complex is largely occupied by faculty researchers, including for example, the faculty's MRI facilities.

In response to growth, the School of Population Health has moved to a newly built campus in Tamaki. This is believed to have occurred since the Auckland City Council would not allow the University of Auckland to purchase anymore land in the CBD with the council preferring this land to be used for commercial purposes.


The faculty is perhaps best known for its medicine programme. The University offers 150 (200 in 2008) places per year in this six year programme to New Zealand and Australian residents, 20 of which are reserved for rural entry students and a similar number for maori and Pacific Islanders. These students pay fees of around NZ$12,000 per annum, which meets 1/4 to 1/3rd of the cost of their degrees. An additional 10-20 places per year are filled by full fee paying international students, usually from North America or the Middle East. Thirty places in clinical years of the programme are given to students from Malaysia, who are funded by their government. Formerly the faculty offered the Bachelor of Human Biology and the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.Ch.B). Since 2005, this was altered and now prospective doctors study for six years to only gain the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, which is the same recognised programme for trained Doctors to be working in New Zealand.

In addition to this degree the faculty offers other undergraduate (bachelor) degrees which include Bachelor of Optometry, Bachelor of Health Science, Bachelor of Pharmacy, Bachelor of Nursing and Bachelor of Biomedical Science (jointly with the University of Auckland Faculty of Science).

A wide range of Post-graduate programmes are also offered, up to the doctorate level (PhD, MD).

The faculty is accredited by the Australasian Medical Council.


The faculty is headed by a Dean, Professor Iain Martin, responsible to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Auckland, and is assisted by a Deputy Dean, Heads of Schools, Associate Research, Education and Academic Deans and a Director of Administration. The faculty is funded by Government and student fees, however there is some commercial funding for research. The Faculty is organised into five 'Schools';

  • School of Medical Sciences

The School of Medical Sciences includes departments of Anatomy with Radiology, Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, Biomedical Imaging Research Unit, Molecular Medicine & Pathology, Nutrition, Oncology, Physiology, and Pharmacology.

  • School of Medicine

The similarly named School of Medicine includes Anaesthesiology, Auckland Clinical School, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ophthalmology, Paediatrics, Psychological Medicine, South Auckland Clinical School, Surgery, Waikato Clinical School

  • School of Population Health

The School of Population Health, is primarily located at Tamaki, unlike the other Grafton based divisions of the Faculty. It includes, Audiology, Centre for Asian Health, Research and Evaluation, Centre for Health Services Research and Policy, Clinical Trials Research Unit, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, General Practice and Primary Health Care, Goodfellow unit, Health Research Methods Advisory Service, Health systems, Injury prevention research centre, Immunisation Advisory Centre, Pacific Health, Primary care, Social & Community health, Survey Research Unit, Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, and the Tōmaiora Māori Health Research Group

  • School of Nursing, (primarily concerned with vocational training)
  • School of Pharmacy, (primarily concerned with vocational training)

In addition to these, the faculty also includes the Liggins Institute, which conducts medical research, the Bioengineering Institute, Goodfellow 'Club', Centre for Evidence Based Nursing Aotearoa, Advanced Clinical Skills Centre and two "support units", Faculty Administration and Faculty Support Services.[1]

Waikato Clinical School and other clinical placements

Although most students are taught in the three main Auckland hospitals, there is a significant presence outside Auckland with the Waikato Clinical School branch of the faculty, in Waikato Hospital, Hamilton, New Zealand's 2nd largest hospital behind Auckland Hospital. This campus is home to 50-60 undergraduate medical students for most of the academic year. 1 From 2008 a similar programme is to be introduced at Whangarei. Small numbers of clinical students are also based in Rotorua hospital and in the future, Tauranga. All medical students also rotate through urban and rural General Practise placements.


The Faculty possesses the only brain bank in New Zealand. This brain bank contains over 400 brains bequeathed to the medical school2, these include those from people who suffer neurological diseases such as Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease.


Lobbying by paediatricians from the faculty influenced the placement of the new Starship Children's Hospital. Starship ended up across the road from the faculty's pre-clinical building as opposed to in South Auckland where it is, in hindsight, believed to have been needed more.

Student Activities

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part of a 'Grassroots' club competition at Fresher's camp

Medical Students are isolated from most other students, being based in the Grafton campus, or hospitals during their clinical years.

A traditionally strong student culture has in recent years been threatened by a number of changes - the loss of a first year cohort of school leavers following the introduction of an intermediate year, the loss of designated student space to form a computer room and commercial cafeteria, expansion of clinical attachments to hospitals outside the Auckland region and a bans on sports in the medical school grounds have made social activities more difficult. Attempts to mix Pharmacy, nursing, Optometry and medical students have been limited. Despite this, as students of each year and discipline attend all lectures together, and - excepting health Science - are geographically isolated from other faculties, students within the FMHS have a stronger student culture than many other faculties.

Elected Bodies

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“Get Plastered” Grassroots course

Representing the domination of medicine within student affairs, the Auckland University Medical Students Association, (AUMSA), is the most active student executive. AUMSA organises social events, an inter-year sports competition, an annual Medical Revue for charity, an annual ball, a Fresher's camp for new students and other events, such as charity art sales. AUMSA also funds a number of other student activities, for example publication of New Doctor. AUMSA has traditionally been heavily funded by the Medical Assurance Society, but in recent years sponsorship has also come from ASB Bank.

AUMSA conducts national lobbying, in conjunction with Otago University's student association forming the New Zealand Medical Student Association. Noteably this advocacy recently lead to a $10,000 increase in the Trainee Intern grant. The Auckland University Students' Association, (AUSA), has little involvement, student union funding being in part diverted to AUMSA, in a similar arrangement to that with the law school students association.

Separate student bodies exist to represent Pharmacy and nursing students, and these organise social gatherings.


New Doctor, a regular satirical magazine is funded by, but independent of AUMSA, (taking the place of the AUSA's Craccum on the main campus). As with many student publications, New Doctor has frequently courted controversy - since the millennium, one university staff member has threatened to sue it for defamation, a dean has threatened to suspend two editors, and would be editors campaigning for election have been warned for publicity stunts considered dangerous. One quirk of the magazine resulted from settlement of a law suit, (arising from an article ranking the attractiveness of students); New Doctor is never named as "New Doctor" within the magazine;- each edition bears a new two word title beginning with N and D. Some of these have in turn become controversial - the dean having complained about posters advertising "Narcotic Delirium" in 2004, although the magazines first colour edition appeared under that name the following year.

A serious academic publication, the New Zealand Medical Student Journal, was started in Otago, but is now jointly run by students from both universities.


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Student with Jaws of Life on a Grassroots course.

A number of clubs exist, catering to religious, ethnic and vocational interests.

Largest of the clubs is the Grassroots Rural Health Club, which was only founded in 2004, but has a membership of around 1/4 of the students. Modelled on the government funded Australian rural health clubs, and Otago's Matagouri club, Grassroots was started in response to the lack of rural G.P.s and the lack of support for rural preferential entrance scheme students, with a grant from Waikato DHB's Institute of Rural Health. It contributes members to the national rural student health body, ARHA. The club organises social and sporting events, as well as training in practical skills not covered in depth within the university curriculum.

The Maori and Pacific Island "MAPAS" club was again formed to assist minority preferential entry scheme students, and is active with social events and tutoring, but remains smaller due to effectively restricting membership to those of Maori or Pacific ethnicity.

A Medical Aid Abroad Programme club is active in fundraising for third world countries. Other special interest groups include a surgical club, a Christian club, and an Asian club.

External links