Nursing gets a boost with increased intake at Waikato

University of Waikato Nursing Cohort 2023 (Photo Supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, March 6, 2023

The shortage of nursing staff across all parts of the country has been a widely discussed topic in recent months. While a quick fix to the problem might not be in sight, some good news in response to the Nursing workforce crisis is here with the University of Waikato doubling the nursing student intake for the year 2023.

The University has welcomed a record 211 new students into its Registered Nursing programmes for 2023, making it more than double the number of students working towards their nursing qualification this year as compared to 2022.

The University is now the largest provider of graduate entry nursing and is taking in more nursing students than the University of Auckland and Wintec, in just the second and third year of its programme delivery.

Acting Dean of Te Huataki Waiora School of Health Dr Jo Lane, said the increase in numbers is encouraging in the face of severe staff shortages in the health workforce.

“We are really pleased to welcome so many high quality nursing students to study. At a time when the health workforce is in crisis, it is imperative that we do everything possible to enable students wanting to enrol in health training to do so.”

The University is the newest provider of Nursing programmes, developing and delivering these in partnership with Te Whatu Ora Waikato, with an emphasis on equity, mental health and addictions, and Māori and Pacific health.

Dr Jo Lane, Dean of Te Huataki Waiora School of Health (Photo supplied)

It offers two programmes that lead to becoming a Registered Nurse, a traditional three-year Bachelor of Nursing degree, and an accelerated graduate entry Master of Nursing Practice degree. The latter allows students with a previous degree in any subject to complete their Nursing training in just two years and be workforce ready.

Dr Lane said, “Graduate entry is a really common model overseas for professional healthcare programmes that are starting to become established in New Zealand. However, we have been just blown away by the demand for our graduate entry Nursing programme, which is already the largest in the country. I am so proud of what our Nursing team has been able to achieve so far.”

“We have nearly 70 students starting this year who want to change careers to become Nurses. That is encouraging, particularly given the rich life experiences they will bring to the profession. I cannot wait to see them graduate and enter the workforce at the end of next year.”

Dr Lane said that the graduate entry programmes are not only a faster way to address health workforce pressures but are also a more cost-effective pathway that does not compromise the quality of training.

He said, “It is an accelerated programme, so graduates still meet the same Nursing Council standards and in fact complete 300 more clinical placement hours than required to ensure they are work ready. However, the cost for students and the Government is around 25% less than a three-year Bachelor of Nursing degree.”

“Given the success of graduate entry health programmes in other countries, including Australia, I would love to see the Government explore this model further in areas where there are other critical workforce shortages, including medicine and midwifery.”

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink correspondent based in Hamilton.

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