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Waikato Open Day Takes Local Stance On Recruitment

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Date: September 2, 2008

Waikato Open Day Takes Local Stance On Recruitment

They came back and now Waikato District Health Board wants more.

Nurses and midwives are in high demand both nationally and internationally.

While recruitment campaigns traditionally focussed on the overseas market, Waikato DHB found there were plenty of people on their own doorstep willing to make a return to the nursing and midwifery professions.

A 'return to nursing' open day earlier this year saw 30 former nurses keen to get back into the workforce. So successful was it that other DHBs used the same campaign.

Canterbury launched their return to nursing initiative last week using the same "I came back" catch line.

Waikato Hospital will host its second 'return to nursing' open day on Friday, September 5 from 9.30am-2pm as part of a wider recruitment and retention campaign.

Now Waikato DHB hopes experienced midwives take up the invitation to attend as well.

The first open day, held in March, was a resounding success for Waikato with 15 people completing the competency programme and 15 employed as 'returning nurses' who had been away for 3-5 years.

While Waikato DHB constantly aims to employ a high standard of health professionals across the board, the focus of the upcoming open day is attracting experienced nurses and midwives who have been away from their professions for five plus years, back into the workforce.

With vacancies sitting at nearly seven full-time equivalents, it is no wonder Maternity Services joined the campaign too.

"The midwifery profession is experiencing an ageing workforce, with the average age for a midwife being 48," said Maternity Services operations manager Sue Cole.

"There have only been small numbers of midwives trained in the past and that is catching up with us now."

Midwives are predominantly female and many leave to have families of their own, which makes midwifery a tricky profession to recruit, she said.

Director of nursing and midwifery Sue Hayward says people have the same reasons for leaving nursing and similar fears about returning as midwives.

"That is why we decided to hold these open days in the first place," she said.

"The improvements are hard to relay unless people come along to see for themselves how much better today's conditions are for nurses - the pay is better, the days of heavy lifting are long gone and the hours are so much more flexible."

Waikato DHB is offering scholarship support to assist with the costs of the competency assessment programme at Waikato Polytechnic (Wintec), which is valid for the November 2008 intake. Success at that could see it rolled out next year.

Joining the Return to Nursing/Midwifery campaign on behalf of their employer, are some of this year's intake into the competency programme:

* Katarina Simon started back in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit last week after 16 years away, as a direct result of the March open day. She voiced radio advertisements and fronted a print advertising campaign for the cause.

* Sonia Wells of Morrinsville appeared in various community newspapers to tell the story of how she has managed to go back to work as well as raise a three-year-old on her own.

* Meanwhile, Joy Kendall recently returned to midwifery. The 62-year-old mother of three, has been caring for people most of her life, having entered the nursing profession in 1966 as a maternity nurse and then switching to midwifery in 1993. She has flip-flopped since, but cannot deny her first love is midwifery and - she is back.

You can find these women's full stories and more about the Nurses Open Day on the Waikato DHB website www.waikatodhb.govt.nz


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