Southern Institute of Technology Nursing students, Ebony Sherry and Courtney Bond have been using their experiences in health education to inspire the next generation into a health-related career for the benefit of rural New Zealand.
SIT Nursing Programme Manager, Karyn Madden, said the opportunity for SIT students to participate in the Rural Health Careers Promotion Programme, run in partnership with the Students of Rural Health Aotearoa (SoRHA), was presented after they were contacted by Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network (HTRHN) - previously NZ Rural GP Network. The programme, supported by the Ministry of Health, aims to promote rural health careers to all rural young people “and inspire them to pursue a career in health”, Ms Madden added.
SIT Head of School of Nursing, Johanna Rhodes, said she fully endorsed the opportunity for SIT students to be part of the initiative, to further support nursing students working in rural communities.
Bachelor of Nursing Year 2 students, Ebony Sherry and Courtney Bond, applied to the programme and were accepted; they toured rural areas of the North Island with other volunteer tertiary students last week. The group of seven represented a range of health professions (e.g. dental, nursing, physiotherapy, midwifery), and had either come from rural backgrounds, or were interested in helping or working in rural health.
During the school visits the students ran interactive workshops, as well as shared their own training experiences and knowledge from their learning journey and student life. When not visiting schools, they had opportunities to visit rural health practices and hospitals, and meet rural health professionals.
Ebony Sherry said apart from meeting the kids and exploring New Zealand, she enjoyed “seeing these kids from small rural schools having such passion and drive to go out and have these big careers – and they want to bring it back to their community – it’s so inspiring.” From a big city background, Ms Sherry said initially she didn’t realise the difficulties rural New Zealanders had getting healthcare, but her partner is from Hokitika, and this has given her a new perspective. “I’ve noticed the challenges rural people face -in the city where everything is on your doorstep, compared to the rural challenges of accessing healthcare.”
Similarly, Courtney Bond rates taking part in the rural education programme as “one of the most rewarding and amazing things I have ever done”. A highlight of Ms Bond’s trip has been educating the students of rural communities on why she loves her future profession; after this experience she’s even more convinced that her career choice is the right one.
“I think it has definitely given me a greater understanding on why it is essential to promote more healthcare workers in these rural communities.” Alongside the adventure and seeing beautiful parts of this country, Ms Bond added “It has taught me why giving back to small communities is very important.”
The students finished the tour on Friday, 2nd September, and returned to their studies this week.