Southern Institute of Technology nursing students Ebony Sherry and Courtney Bond have used their experiences in health education to inspire the next generation into health-related careers to benefit rural New Zealand.
SIT Nursing Program Manager Karyn Madden said the opportunity for SIT students to participate in the Rural Health Careers Promotion Program, run in partnership with Student Rural Health Aotearoa (SoRHA), was presented after they were contacted by Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network (HTRHN) – formerly NZ Rural GP Network. The programme, supported by the Ministry of Health, aims to promote careers in rural health to all rural youth “and inspire them to pursue a career in health”, Ms Madden added.
SIT School of Nursing Director Johanna Rhodes said she fully endorses the opportunity for SIT students to be part of the initiative, to further support nursing students working in rural communities.
Second-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing students, Ebony Sherry and Courtney Bond, applied to the program and were accepted; they visited the rural areas of the North Island with other higher education student volunteers last week. The group of seven represented a range of healthcare professions (e.g. dental, nursing, physiotherapy, midwifery) and either came from a rural background or wanted to help or work in healthcare rural.
During the school visits, the students held interactive workshops and shared their own training experiences and insights from their learning journey and student life. When they were not visiting schools, they had the opportunity to visit rural health practices and hospitals and meet rural health professionals.
Ebony Sherry said that as well as meeting the kids and exploring New Zealand, she loved “seeing these little rural school kids have such a passion and drive to get out there and have these great careers – and they want to bring it back to their community – it’s so inspiring.” From a big city, Ms Sherry said she initially didn’t realize the difficulties rural New Zealanders face in getting healthcare, but her partner is from Hokitika, which made her given a new perspective. “I noticed the challenges that rural people face – in the city where everything is at your doorstep, versus the rural challenges of accessing health care.”
Similarly, Courtney Bond considers her participation in the rural education program “one of the most rewarding and amazing things I have ever done”. A highlight of Ms. Bond’s trip was educating students in rural communities about why she loves her future profession; after this experience, she is even more convinced that her career choice is the right one.
“I think it definitely gave me a better understanding of why promoting more healthcare workers in these rural communities is essential.” Along with adventure and discovering beautiful parts of this country, Ms Bond added: ‘It taught me why giving back to small communities is very important.’
The students finished the tour on Friday September 2 and resumed their studies this week.
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