Dunedin film-maker hopes his documentary ‘Practising Medicine’ will educate Otago medical students

Dr Paul Trotman

Dr Paul Trotman : Dunedin film-maker; Otago medical graduate and practising doctor

Dunedin film-maker Dr Paul Trotman hopes the follow-up to his acclaimed film on the University of Otago’s body bequest programme will help “demystify” the medical profession.

His new film, Practising Medicine, follows Otago University medical students who featured in his previous documentary, Donated to Science, through their clinical years in medical school and their first year as doctors.

Dr Trotman, who is an Otago University medical graduate and a practising doctor, said the film, which airs next week, explored the many hurdles students had to overcome on their way to becoming doctors.

“It’s a fascinating journey as they go from knowing a whole lot of anatomy and biochemistry through to learning how to be doctors.” Hopefully, it would go some way to “demystifying” the medical profession, he said.

“I hope it takes a step towards people realising doctors are people and fallible and have all those other things that everybody else has.”

He had enjoyed following the students through such an important part of their lives and there was a little bit of sadness in having to say goodbye when he finished filming. He had spent five years following the students, including the time making Donated to Science.

“It was fantastic seeing …how they went from being basically kids to adults. It was very cool.”

The documentary was filmed at medical school campuses in both Dunedin and Wellington and at 12 hospitals around New Zealand.

Donated to Science screened to an audience of 720,000 and widespread acclaim when it premiered on TV3 in November 2009, with Dr Trotman picking up the best director award at the Edge Film Festival Awards.

He said he was “really pleased” with the popularity of Donated to Science.

“I was slightly surprised. It’s very rewarding when a lot of people want to see a film that you have done and it changes the way people think about something,” he said.

Otago University Otago School of Medical Sciences dean Prof Helen Nicholson, who produced both documentaries, said the film and leftover footage would be used to help teach medical students.

It was also hoped it would lead to research articles, which could take advantage of the interviews carried out as part of the documentary.

The next project Dr Trotman was working on with his company, PRN Films, was a documentary on the New Zealand healthcare system, which was largely being filmed at Oamaru Hospital.

Practising Medicine will screen on TV3 at 9.30pm next Thursday.

Source:  Otago Daily Times


  1. Sandra Rogers says:


    Is it possible to purchase a DVD of Practicing Medicine? I’ve heard it’s terrific and would love to purchase it.


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