At CMFnz we are committed to supporting medical students to grow personally and professionally, in Christian faith and expression, and we particularly want to grow the support available to clinical students.
Connecting CMFnz clinical students with a Christian junior doctor or more senior medical student, Tuakana Support is a new initiative designed to provide a safe relationship for clinical students to explore questions of faith, discuss the challenges of studies and placements, and receive input from another Christian a step ahead in their medical journey.
In Māori culture, a key to learning and growth is the tuakana/teina relationship, where an older or more expert tuakana (older sibling or cousin) helps and guides the younger or less experienced teina (a brother, sister or cousin of the same gender).
All CMFnz clinical students, house officers and registrars are invited to participate.
Each tuakana/teina relationship will be unique, shaped by the personalities and needs of each person. Some may meet at a café, the hospital or their local church, others may find going for a walk together a life-giving way to connect and share. Some may meet as often weekly or fortnightly, while others meet monthly. If there are unequal numbers of tuākana and tēina interested in different areas, some tuākana/tēina relationships might even be comprised of small groups rather than pairs. What each relationship has in common will be a shared commitment to prayer, to growing in faith and godliness and to building a relationship of transparency and trust.
We also anticipate that groups of tuākana and tēina from the same city or region will be able to meet together about every three months, to support each other, learn from each other, and pray for each other, potentially in lieu of a regular meeting.
Receiving Tuakana Support
All 4th, 5th and 6th year CMFnz Student Members in 2021 are welcome to register to have a tuakana journey with them: a more senior medical student or junior doctor who can share their experiences in medicine, listen to your struggles or challenges, pray with and encourage you, connect you with other Christian medical students, doctors or churches, and advise you on your next steps in your medical journey.
If you are a Christian medical student, but not yet a member of CMFnz, you can sign up to become a member (for free!) as part of the registration process.
It is expected that you are seeking to follow Christ in all areas of your life, and you are open to share vulnerably with your tuakana about the challenges you're facing on your journey in medicine.
Providing Tuakana Support
If you will be a 5th or 6th year student, a House Officer or a Registrar in 2021, you are invited to serve as a tuakana, supporting a younger medical student in their faith and clinical studies.
While the expectation is that you are actively seeking to follow Christ in all areas of your life, there is no expectation that you are an “expert” in the Christian faith with everything sorted. The beauty of tuakana/teina relationships is there is space for a role-reversal, and for the tuakana to be learning from the wisdom the younger student brings to the relationship.
What you bring as a tuakana is a desire to grow and learn in faith, a commitment to praying with and for the student you are supporting, a willingness to meet regularly (ideally at least monthly) and a heart to listen and encourage them as they walk through the challenges of being a Christian in medicine.
Can I support a younger student and also receive tuakana support myself?
If you are a 5th or 6th year student, you may want to have a House Officer or Registrar supporting you in your Christian medical journey; and you may also have a heart to support a new clinical student. You can certainly register for both roles! You will just need to consider the time commitment that each requires.
How should we spend our time together?
CMFnz provides resources and guidelines to shape how you spend time together, but there is plenty of flexibility. For some, structured Bible study and prayer will be central, to others it may be reading through and discussing books relating to faith and medicine, while for others it will be a time to share frustrations and challenges and bring these together in prayer before the Lord. Both the tuakana and teina will have access to these resources.
We recommend that prayer is a necessary part of each meeting, and we encourage each of you to be reading scripture regularly, either as part of your time meeting together, or individually.
How are the teina and tuakana connected?
The CMFnz Coordinator will email you both, sharing your contact details and a link to the Tuakana Support resources. You will each be of the same gender and based in the same area, but at different stages in your medical journey. If you know of someone you would like to be connected with, you are welcome to note that when you register.
How does Tuakana Support differ from mentoring?
Tuakana Support forms fairly informal “buddy” connections between clinical students and more senior students/junior doctors. Elements of a mentoring relationship may be present in the tuakana/teina relationship, although there is no expectation on the tuakana to take on a mentor-type role. Mentoring tends to be a more formalised relationship, where the ‘mentee’ is seeking to learn from the significant experience and knowledge of the mentor. Mentoring is a step up from Tuakana Support. Clinical students are very welcome to explore having a mentor as well as receiving support from a tuakana.
CMFnz is piloting a mentoring programme in the Christchurch area. For more information about this, please contact Jeremy Baker: [email protected].
What if I find it difficult to connect or relate to my tuakana/teina?
These relationships can be intensely personal, and we do not all “click” with just anybody. If you find that the relationship is not really working out for whatever reason, you can discuss this with the CMFnz Coordinator, who can make an effort to connect you with someone else. Where possible we encourage you to acknowledge this with your tuakana/teina.
What is the extent of the Tuakana Support commitment?
The commitment is just for 2021, ideally spanning a period of approximately 10 months from February to November, with a minimum commitment of 6 months expected. Over that time, it is anticipated that you would meet monthly, perhaps more often, and that you would each commit to praying for each other regularly, not just when you meet up. Ideally meeting will take place face-to-face, but this is not always possible, particularly during times of COVID restrictions.
Who do I contact with the other questions I have?
Please direct any queries to Sarah Stark, the CMFnz Coordinator: [email protected]