Around the country there is plenty of evidence that relationships between District Health Boards (DHBs) and local schools of nursing are thriving, resulting in benefits for students, graduates, healthcare providers and – ultimately – patients. 

One example is Manawa, the cutting-edge health research and education facility in the new Te Papa Hauora/Health Precinct in Christchurch. Located immediately opposite Christchurch Hospital, the integrated facility is shared by health programme staff from Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB), University of Canterbury (UC) and Ara Institute of Canterbury and encourages greater collaboration and innovation between industry and practice. 

Manawa has been fully operational for just over six months and Becky Hickmott, CDHB’s Clinical Lead for Manawa, says they’ve “been blown away at how successful it’s been”. 

Students have access to high tech simulation environments and facilities and work alongside health professionals and potential employers. CDHB staff refer to them as our students’,” she says. “There’s a strong sense of ownership.” 

“Ara is the pipeline for CDHB’s future workforce, so they have a vested interest in what we do,” says Rose Whittle, Ara’s Clinical Manager for Nursing. Ara’s lecturers work closely with their DHB colleagues to ensure graduates fulfil current and future workforce requirements. 

For example, Ara students can access up-to-date technologies they will encounter in clinical settings, such as electronic documentation, electronic medication and vital signs records.  

“We aim for students to be ready for practice on graduation,” says Whittle. 

Another benefit she has observed is students “rubbing shoulders” with CDHB staff coming into Manawa to upskill, particularly in the simulation centre. “They’re realising education is a lifelong journey that doesn’t stop when you graduate.” 

For prospective nurses living outside Christchurch – in Nelson, Marlborough, South Canterbury and the West CoastAra introduced a blended delivery model earlier this year that allows students to study for a Diploma in Enrolled Nursing without having to move to Christchurch. 

With support from a locally based tutor, students study primarily online (they have to attend a number of study blocks at Christchurch) and six clinical placements with their local DHB provides them with an opportunity to gain experience and establish contacts that could lead to employment within their home region. 

Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) also has a strong relationship with NMIT to support the growth of the region’s nursing workforce, says Sandra McLean-Cooper, NMH’s Nurse Consultation (Education).  As well as providing NMIT students with clinical learning opportunities, NMH advises on both the clinical and cultural components of NMIT’s undergraduate nursing programme. 

It takes strong partnerships, a regional approach and different ways of working to ensure there will be enough registered and enrolled nurses joining the workforce,” says McLean-Cooper 

Further north, Capital & Coast District Health Board (CCDHB) welcomes enrolled nursing students from Whitireia for clinical placements during training, employs newly qualified enrolled nurses and supports them with an entry to practice programme, says CCDHB’s Chief Nursing Officer Emma Hickson. 

“Capital & Coast DHB’s campuses – Wellington Regional and Kenepuru Community Hospitals, and the Kapiti Health Centre – are also training facilities. This means there are always nursing students undergoing or completing their training at our facilities, and we have strong relationships with the schools of nursing.” 

CCDHB provides a range of training and support for student nurses, including Dedicated Education Units (DEUs) which give student nurses supported work placements, hands-on experience in a ward setting, and access to mentors who provide support and feedback. 

“Student nurses play an important role in meeting our future workforce needs, and the relationships they build while training with us see many continue to work with us after graduating 

Hickson says CCDHB is fortunate to have both Maori and Pacific Bachelor of Nursing programmes taught locally. We have a focus on supporting the learning and employing those nurses to enable our health system and workforce to attain improved health outcomes for the Maori and Pacific people of our region.” 

Another example of new graduates benefiting from nursing school/DHB collaboration is Nelson Marlborough Health’s ‘nurse entry to practice’ (NetP) programme, which places new graduate nurses in secondary services and primary health in Nelson and Blenheim.  

Secondary service placement areas include surgical assessment treatment and rehabilitation, perioperative and radiology. Primary care placement areas include Maori health, hospice, aged care and a mixed rural nursing experience at Murchison Community Hospital. 

And it’s not just students and new graduates who benefit from the DHB-nursing school relationship.  

In response to a growing demand for nurses across Northland, NorthTec recently started working with the Northland District Health Board to encourage registered nurses who do not have a current practicing certificate to re-enter the workforce. 

NorthTec’s Return to Nursing programme supports registered nurses back into practice, with an adapted, flexible programme offering a part-time option for clinical placement over four to six weeks. Tutors provide one-to-one support in clinical placements and online.  

Dee Telfer, Acting Director of Nursing and Midwifery at Northland District Health Board says the DHB will be able to offer graduates either full-time or part-time employment across Northland.   


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