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Nursing Is An International Passport: Get Yours

For immediate release
Date: Monday, March 10

Nursing Is An International Passport * Get Yours

Would you mind going back? Health Waikato and anyone else within the region that has ever required hospital treatment, needs you.

The country is full of nurses no longer registered or practising who are itching to get back into the workforce but fearful of doing so.

Lorraine Stringer heard the call and did return.

The 62-year-old grandmother is one of those old-school nurses you'd want caring for you if you ever ended up in hospital.

Thankfully, she is among a new breed of older nurses rapidly becoming important as Health Waikato grapples with nursing shortages.

"I've got life skills - I was trained in an era where that's what mattered," said Mrs Stringer, who has been back working at Waikato Hospital as an casual nurse for seven months.

Health Waikato is running an Information Day at Waikato Hospital on Friday, March 14 in an attempt to attract registered nurses out in the community back into the workforce with hours that fit with their family commitments.

"The expo will give attendees the chance to work with medical equipment, tour different hospital wards and be refreshed on why they entered the profession in the first place - only they'll see that conditions are better than they ever have been," said Waikato District Health Board clinical nurse manager Dinny Oakley.

The Information Day is also open to prospective nurses.

Waikato DHB recruits at least 45 Wintec nursing graduates every year.

Mrs Stringer, who has been chosen as the face of the 'returning nurses' campaign, said when she was farewelled from Waikato Hospital in March 2004; she never expected to come back.

However, the wage increase and the opportunity to work flexible hours made it worth her while.

"As I get older I want to spend more time doing family things, going to school functions, baby sitting - just to have a life really," said Mrs Stringer.

"It (casual nursing) allows me to do both - it gives me that facility."

She works anything up to three days per week.

"Now's the opportunity to come back and make a contribution to nursing and (finally) make a dollar," said Mrs Stringer.

Nurses' wages start from $41,000 per year.

Australian-born Bridget Mason also left nursing in 2000, but to have children.

For much the same reasons as Mrs Stringer, just one month ago, she returned to the workforce, working in the recovery ward at Te Kuiti Hospital, where she and her family have made a life.

The prospect of getting back into nursing excited the young mother and she says she has been welcomed back with open arms, currently taking part in the local hospital's 'workforce re-entry' programme.

"I love nursing. I really do," said Mrs Mason.

"It feels good to be back, and the staff at Te Kuiti and Waikato Hospitals have been fantastic - both nursing and medical.

"It's a flexible profession. Even though it's shift work, you can make the hours work for you, which is really important when you have a young family. It's working out really well for us."

There is a nationwide shortage of nurses. Last year Waikato DHB and Wintec joined forces to promote nursing as a career. Nurses, midwives and occupational therapists are in demand throughout the country.

Health Waikato's Information Day will take place from 9.30-11.30am and 1-2.30pm in level one of Waikato Hospital's Entry Building.


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