Population Health Intensive Week

Population Health Intensive (PHI) Week is a week long programme for 5th year medical students.

2024 dates

Monday 27 May - Friday 31 May

The Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences’ focus on Population Health signals an expectation that our graduates should not only be competent in the clinical realm but also in their application of an understanding of the broader dimensions of health and its societal determinants.

We believe it is vital that 21st century doctors working in any capacity are aware that population health is where many of the solutions to our major health problems may be found. They need to be familiar with the range of agencies that engage with people in the community to improve and promote their health, and should also understand the critically important role that other sectors, such as education and housing, also play in promoting health and preventing disease.

Purpose of the week

The purpose of PHI Week is to expose medical students to a different way of thinking about health - a 'population health perspective'. The week has been carefully planned to provide students with a balance of stimulation from experts and self-directed small group learning.

What happens over the week?

The week starts with a half-day symposium with a scene-setting keynote address from a population health expert and short presentations from several leading clinicians on how a population health perspective informs their work.

The students are split into teams of 9-12 students and each team is randomly allocated a topic to investigate and research during the week. These topics can change from year to year. A key information source enabling these investigations comes from the community agencies and topic experts.

Each team has to visit a minimum of eight different community agencies or topic experts on Tuesday and Wednesday of PHI Week. The meeting times and days are pre-arranged before PHI Week starts, enabling the students to dedicate more time into researching their topic.

The purpose of the community/agency visits is to:

  • Gain knowledge of the services available, the challenges they face and the impact they have
  • Consider the relationship of the community agencies with the healthcare system, including primary care
  • Gain an appreciation of the value of multidisciplinary teamwork
  • Understand the roles of the range of health professionals and others in these agencies
  • Clarify how existing policies and strategies are working and discuss with the people in the agencies the relative merit of potential strategies that their team is considering

The students will go to the agencies with a range of questions and will seek to answer these questions. Agencies may consider the above points and be prepared to engage in conversations around the "Team Questions" listed in the student handbook (to be provided closer to the time). These questions are common to all teams and each team needs to consider these in order to successfully complete their weeks work.

The agency meeting will consist of approximately 2-4 students who will talk with the agency representative/s for approximately one hour.

After the agency meetings

Working in their teams, the students will identify a gap or an issue within their topic that they would like to address. The team is given a notional fund of up to $500,000 to develop a feasible and innovative population health strategy that seeks to address the identified issue. On Friday each team presents their strategy to their peers and a panel of assessors. Community agencies are invited to attend these presentations. While the presentations take place at the students’ respective locations, they are also viewed by their peers via video conference. 

Contact details


Anna Harding-Schofield
Population Health Intensive Coordinator
Email: a.harding@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 (0) 9 923 7397 ext 87397


Caroline Strydom
Site Team Leader
Email: c.strydom@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: +64 9 430 4100


Raewyn Wooderson
Manager of Waikato Clinical School
Email: raewyn.wooderson@auckland.ac.nz

Bay of Plenty

Donna Watkins
Student Placement Coordinator
Bay of Plenty Clinical Campus
Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty
Email: donna.watkins@bopdhb.govt.nz
Phone: +64 27 686 7110


Sarah Maessen
Population Health Intensive Coordinator
Research Fellow
Paediatrics, Child and Youth Health