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There's been changes in uniforms, technology and the building, but the high quality of care is still the same.

Former nurse educators, tutors, programme managers and graduates will return to the Southern Institute of Technology to celebrate the 40th anniversary of nursing education at the institute on April 26.

Nurse educator Jess Domigan said it would be a chance for people to share stories of nursing education in Southland and their time at the school, as well as for current students to learn from them.

There will also be an afternoon tea and students will be taking tours through the new facilities.

So far, about 100 people were interested in attending.

From humble beginnings, the school of nursing had "grown to be the jewel in the crown" of SIT programmes, Domigan said.

Throughout the years, dedicated teams of highly qualified nurse educators and tutors have guided, facilitated and watched as nursing students grow and develop into confident, capable and employable Registered and Enrolled nurses, she said.

The national employment rate was 70 per cent but at SIT it was 95 per cent.

"Employments rates are extremely high and SIT nursing graduates are widely sought after [throughout the country]," Domigan said.

Up until 1978, nursing education in Southland was based at Southland Hospital, formerly Kew Hospital.

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Since the move the institute has maintained a good relationship with the hospital.

This year the school of nursing is led by Dr Sally Dobbs and the staff of 22 nurse educators, science lecturers, technicians and administrators.

The school has about 200 students in the Bachelor of Nursing programme, 20 students in the Diploma of Enrolled Nursing programme and 75 students in the post graduate programme.

The school also offers a foundation skills course for health career programmes.

With a balance of theory and practical work, students have access to one of the best high-tech simulation suites in the country, Domigan said.

"It's invaluable."

The suite allows them to practise their clinical skills on mannequins that replicate real life scenarios, including putting in IV lines and checking vital signs.

Dobbs said the biggest changes to the industry were in technology, uniforms and cultural diversity, but there was still a need for more men, Māori and Pacific Island nurses in New Zealand.

"It's a fabulous profession nursing. A good profession and a privilege to be a nurse ... to care for people at all stages from birth to death. You see a special part of peoples lives," she said.

The anniversary celebration will be held at SIT's Hansen Hall foyer on April 26, 1pm to 3pm. For more information contact Jess Domigan at jess.domigan@sit.ac.nz.

- Stuff

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