Home Nursing course South Canterbury DHB Welcomes Ara Nursing Course Response to Timaru

South Canterbury DHB Welcomes Ara Nursing Course Response to Timaru

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Timaru Hospital Nurse Rachel Mills, along with RNs Dominique Franks and Rebecca Gray, and SCDHB Director of Patients, Nursing and Midwives Lisa Blackler.

DOUG / STUFF FIELD

Timaru Hospital Nurse Rachel Mills, along with RNs Dominique Franks and Rebecca Gray, and SCDHB Director of Patients, Nursing and Midwives Lisa Blackler.

The South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB) hopes that a recent drop in the number of applicants for nursing at higher education institutions is a failure and is encouraged by the fact that the first nursing course of the ‘Ara Institute of Canterbury is close to capacity.

The 25 places available for the nursing program, which is taking place for the first time at the Ara campus in Timaru this year, has 22 confirmed applicants and three more awaiting academic results before confirmation.

SCDHB Director of Patients, Nurses and Midwives Lisa Blackler said DHB has worked hard to attract students to Timaru Hospital for the past two years.

It was important to attract people to Timaru, as the city had an aging workforce, she said.

At a meeting on the South Island late last year, Blackler heard that the number of nursing applicants entering higher education was “dramatically reduced” from what he usually received.

Instead of the normal 400 applicants for 125 places, there were only 100.

“It’s a wait and see if this will continue, or if this is a one-time situation,” Blackler said.

“So it’s a concern if we’re going to increase our membership and they don’t decrease. We have to watch this very closely.

“We know there is national pressure for undergraduate programs. They are not getting the registrations that they have already seen.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education said she did not have enrollment data for 2018 and that annual enrollment data for 2018 would not be available until early 2019.

A report released by the ministry in 2017, titled What do they do?, said that after several years of increasing nursing enrollment, the total number declined slightly in 2016, for the second year in a row. The report suggested that due to this drop, the total number was likely to continue to drop in the future.

Blackler said staff have been to nursing schools and road shows, telling students “this is what we can offer” in an effort to bring them to Timaru.

Staff went to great lengths to sell the smaller area to students as good for their career experience, as big centers like Auckland would beat Timaru in terms of nightlife, she said.

By caring for at Timaru Hospital, students and graduates would get “wide experience” and the opportunity to try things they might not be able to do in a larger facility, she said. .

People higher up in Timaru’s hospital hierarchy also took the time to speak to students and new graduates, she said.

“I don’t believe you get that in large organizations.”

Blackler said that each year nurses rank where they would like to go in their online applications. Historically, Timaru Hospital was not ranked very well, but since making a concerted effort to attract students, it has seen dramatic improvement.

“We had 48 applications in 2017 for the November-December round, for 17 places.

“We have worked hard for 18 months to increase these numbers.”

DHB has also changed its recruitment process for nurse candidates from a 20-minute interview to a day-long workplace assessment that includes group work, an interview and a mini-exam.

DHB was also trying to be more innovative in what it could offer students.

Four DHB officers received training which enabled them to perform clinical simulations.

Working with Ara would allow the hospital to run more elaborate clinical simulations, Blackler said.