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Step In the Right Direction On Nurses Student Debt

14 August, 2003

Government Step In the Right Direction On Nurses Student Debt

The Nurses Organisation has welcomed a government announcement of scholarships for students intending to work in the health workforce.

"At last we are seeing some delivery on the recommendations of Health Workforce Advisory Committee made some years ago," said NZNO president Jane O'Malley today.

"Any measure addressing the burden of student debt for nursing and midwifery students is a step towards addressing the causes of our nursing shortage," she said.

Jane O'Malley said NZNO was pleased that scholarships were targeted to those who could not afford to study nursing and midwifery and also targeted to young people.

"This sends a signal that there is some recognition of the desparate need to attract young people to nursing, where the average age is currently 42," she said.

Jane O'Malley said although the scholarships were a positive step, NZNO would have liked to see a reduction or elimination in all fees for nursing students.

It was also disappointing that nurses would receive less scholarship money than other higher-paid health professionals.

"Although this is an acknowledgement of the higher fees paid in some courses, the amount nurses are eligible for does not reflect their ability to pay student debt once they have graduated," she said.

"The fact is that when their studies are completed nurses earn significantly less than other health professionals."

Jane O'Malley said the average cost of a nursing degree was $12000 and nurses entering the workforce after graduating were earning around $30,000.

"Until nurses earn what they are worth, affordability of study will be an issue and many more measures, including a dramatic increase in nurses' pay is needed," she said.


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