More support needed for student nurses

Posted By TEU on Sep 7, 2017 |

Tertiary Update Election Edition – Vol 1 No 3


Jackie McHaffie, a Senior Academic Staff Member at the Centre for Health and Social Practice at Wintec, highlights the impact a lack of financial support has on the ability of people to access nursing courses.

Far too many student nurses have to forgo the most basic essentials of daily life in order to get through their study.

In other words, people that have chosen to dedicate their lives to treating, caring for and supporting those in need are struggling to makes ends meet.

Inequality, poverty and housing all have an impact on people’s ability to access tertiary education. Sub-standard housing and a lack of support for students create obstacles for nurses from a wide of backgrounds to succeed.

This election we have an opportunity to vote for something different.

National has failed to support future nurses with enough so that they can afford to eat properly, clothe their whānau and rent a home that is warm, dry and within a reasonable distance of clinical placements.

Some student nurses have chosen to return to study later in life and, as such, have family commitments. It is challenging enough that these commitments can sometimes conflict with the demands of nursing courses, added to the fact that many are not receiving adequate financial support to meet basic needs while they study.

It is no wonder that so many struggle to make it through training.

Nurses can often be with people on what may the worst day of their lives. Compassion is the absolute essence of nursing – and yet this National government has failed to show the same level of compassion to nurses themselves.

Working closely with individuals, families and communities nurses do so much to help New Zealand meet the challenge of improving care and reducing health inequalities. Unlike doctors, a nurse often spends long periods of time with their patients, building trusting relationships.

If you, or someone close to you, has ever been cared for, you will know that it is a nurse that is at the bedside from admission through to discharge. They relieve pain, ease distress and are the first line of defence against any issues that may arise.

Training these nurses, midwives and care staff in these complex tasks is absolutely integral to a successful health system.

For the last nine years, National has cut funding to nursing courses, cut student support and cut living allowances. Their legacy is students sleeping in cars and having to rely on hand outs from community services just to make it through the week.

Understandably we expect nurses to apply the highest possible standards to their professional lives, yet at the same time this National government has left the personal lives of many in tatters.

The reality is that another three years of National will further restrict access to nursing to those that can afford to support themselves through their study. Driving more students away from nursing is a spectacularly short-sighted approach. We need to support and encourage talented would-be nurses, not put them off.

Further, as a result of National’s underfunding of the health system, when student nurses graduate many are likely to experience heavier workloads and fewer rewards. Much more needs to be done to ensure that everyone that wants to can access and complete their nursing studies.

Students currently studying to become a nurse, or thinking about enrolling, are the people that we may rely on to care for us in the future – to stand with us and support us through what could very well be an extremely difficult time. When you go to vote on 23 September, I urge you think about whom exactly is caring for them.

Labour, the Greens and the Māori Party are currently the only parties that support public, fully-funded healthcare. Let’s use the opportunity they have given us and vote to support our nurses of the future on 23 September.

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Continued access to tertiary education in local communities is at stake this election
  2. Public tertiary education is vital for our Pasifika communities
  3. Three more years of National would put healthcare at risk
  4. Green Party launch equal pay policy
  5. UnionAid raffle a big success

Other news

The New Zealand Herald has published a summary of where National and Labour stand on education issues – NZ Herald

The University of Otago is conducting a brand review in the midst plans to cut nearly FTE 200 general staff jobs – ODT

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has published a briefing on the transition from school to work – OECD

Auckland University of Technology has launched an Indonesia Centre as part of a cultural diplomacy initiative – Live News

It is Adult Learners’ Week. More than 64,000 New Zealanders aged 18-90+ are currently engaged in learning through Adult Community Education – TEC

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