standard-title About Us

About Us

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About the NZRDA

The NZRDA stands for New Zealand Resident Doctors’ Association – or the RDA for short.

The NZRDA is the only organisation in New Zealand solely representing the interests of RMOs (RMO means Resident Medical Officer and includes trainee interns, house surgeons, senior house officers and registrars).

We are run by resident doctors for resident doctors. Our main purpose is to protect and promote the interests of our members. This includes taking care of doctors’ rights and your interests at work, within the health sector and in the wider community.

The philosophy of the NZRDA is based on community, support and union principles such as democratic structure and quality service delivery to members.

Promote and protect RMO interests

In short, the RDA supports RMOs, pursues RMOs’ interests, and negotiates and enforces RMOs terms and conditions of employment. We are a democratic union – so that means that we ask what our members want before we act on their behalf and we are not politically aligned: our role is to represent RMOs and we must be free to do that regardless of who is in power. In actively lobbying for our members interests, we comment publicly where appropriate and communicate with other medical organisations (both in New Zealand and overseas), politicians, government organisations and those in the private sector. It is through the union that you have an opportunity to have your say and influence decisions that may affect your future in the delivery of health services in New Zealand. We provide advocacy advice and support for workforce issues that may arise including those related to compliance and enforcement of your employment agreement. We also provide individual representation services to you if you so require.

Always here

Personal and professional support through the NZRDA can be accessed 24/7.

Sooner rather than later

Here at the NZRDA office, we help numerous members with a variety of situations on a daily basis, such as: disciplinary matters, personal grievances and breaches of the terms and conditions of your contract. In a nutshell, we are here to assist and to guide you when (as does happen) things “go wrong”. However, we stress that when things do “go wrong” you need to get in touch with us sooner rather than later! This might sound like common sense, but you would be surprised at how many members contact us ‘after the fact’. Say for example, after they have been to an initial (or a number of) meeting(s) with their employer without any support person or, worse still, with their “mother” as a support person (assuming your mother is not a medico-industrial practitioner). In this situation, there is a risk that important points will not be conveyed to the employer, or you may jeopardise your position by acknowledging or agreeing to something without understanding the implications. It is important to be aware that when talking with an employer in this context, it is rarely ‘just a chat’. You always have the right to representation. So… we suggest that when an issue arises, you contact us.

After you call us

First we will ask for all the necessary information. In the majority of cases all information comes to light eventually so it is best to be transparent with us and share all the details right from the outset so we can in turn give you the best advice. We are always here to help you with what might be a difficult or troubling subject. And remember… sooner rather than later is best!


The RDA represents RMOs on a wide range of issues:

  • The HWNZ medical relevance group operates to ensure all TIs get a job as a first year
  • The MCNZ regarding pre-vocational training, bullying and sexual harassment of RMOs
  • Workload and supervision pressure that directly affect you starting from day one as an RMO

Joining is easy

Visit our membership page to join or renew. Remember, membership is free for Trainee Interns

House Officer

At the completion of the Trainee Intern (TI) year (the 6th and final year of medical school) RMOs can apply to DHBs within New Zealand for employment. An RMO’s first appointment as a first year house surgeon position is referred to as a house officer. During the second year an RMO is known as a second year house surgeon and from the third and fourth years RMOs are then are referred to as senior house officers. It takes a minimum of 12 months for a first year RMO to gain general registration with the Medical Council of New Zealand.


A registrar is an RMO who has been employed as a house surgeon for two years (or as a house surgeon for one year and engaged for one year in other medical services as a medical practitioner) and is usually working in and studying towards a specialist field of medical practice.

What is an RMO?

A resident doctor or resident medical officer (RMO) is a person who has graduated from medical school as a qualified doctor and is undergoing further training to become fully qualified in whatever vocational field that they so choose. The RDA is the only organisation in New Zealand solely representing the interests of RMOs. The term ‘resident’ comes from the availability of RMOs who are primarily on site in the hospitals.

MECA Definition

The MECA describes a resident medical officer in the following way: “a house surgeon, senior house officer, registrar or junior dental officer and shall include any medical officer registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (or any act passed in substitution) expect medical practitioners registered under the vocational scope of practice”.

Annual General Meeting


The AGM is our policy-setting meeting, usually held on the second to last Saturday in March each year. It is the time when the executive and secretariat report on the year’s activities. The executive secretary, who oversees the Association’s finances throughout the year, also reports on the Association’s financial situation and presents the annual audited accounts.

The AGM tends to move to a different city each year, the actual venue and date being set a year ahead at each AGM. All members are welcome to attend; however, to best ensure at least one person from each hospital is present, NZRDA facilitates delegates’ attendance. This enables members who cannot be there on the day to still have input through your delegate as well as get a report back. The President’s Report and the Secretariat Report from the AGM held on 24 March 2018 are now available:


Life Members

Life members are people who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to represent and progress members interests. On top of the busy life we all have, they have invested time and energy in us. In doing so, they inevitably demonstrate a commitment to resident doctors and our role, and to addressing our challenges and needs. Ultimately, life members have to be elected to life membership by an AGM. Read more about life membership here


AGM agenda-setting process

The Agenda for the meeting is set well in advance, following a standard format which is “populated” as the year progresses, but finalised in February. Notices of motion (matters such as rule changes or alteration to our fees) must be notified at least 3 months in advance so members have an opportunity to discuss and give feedback before the actual meeting occurs.

The AGM is also the time when election of officers occurs: the national executive members who are charged with running the Association between AGMs are confirmed in office. All our executive members are elected, including our national secretary. Nominations are called (again) 3 months in advance of the AGM. If anyone is interested in knowing more and would like more information, please email or contact one of the current exec members.

Any Financial Member may move that a decision be made by AGM in accordance with the following process:

a. The Member shall submit the notice of motion to the National Secretary in writing:

i. At least 2 months in advance of the AGM in the event that the motion involves an amendment to the rules (insert link to the NZRDA rules here); and

ii.At least 1 month in advance of the AGM in all other cases

b. The National Secretary shall forward the notice of motion to all Members as soon as is reasonably practicable, and within 28 days of receipt.