The Division of Rural Hospital Medicine was developed out of the Rural Hospital Doctors' (RHDs) Working Party.
The Working Party was formed in July 2005 to examine the vocational issues faced by doctors working in small rural hospitals, principally those with no, or very limited specialist cover. In their hospital role, these doctors provide generalist secondary-level care, across the entire spectrum of medical presentations.
A priority of the Working Party was to develop a professional body for rural hospital generalist doctors. In May 2006, the Working Party lodged an application with the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) for Branch Advisory Body status and the recognition of rural hospital medicine as a new scope of practice.
The application was approved and the MCNZ recognised Rural Hospital Medicine as a separate vocational branch, with a Branch Advisory Body (BAB) status, early in March 2008.
The Division of Rural Hospital Medicine (the Division) was formed as a sub-faculty of the National Rural Faculty of the RNZCGP. The Division had its inaugural meeting at the end of March 2008, where its Council was elected. It sits semi-autonomously within the RNZCGP with its own BAB status, training and recertification programme. As a BAB, the Division advises the MCNZ on registration issues for RHDs.
This emergence of a generalist hospital-based scope is in line with current medical career thinking and bucks the trend to increase sub-specialisation in hospital medicine.