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Growing your own works for HB health service

Growing your own works for Hawke’s Bay health service

29th July 2008

Students at some Hawke’s Bay, Auckland and Tairawhiti schools are being mentored by health workers as part of an innovative new programme. Project Incubator is forging links between students and the health sector in a bid to tackle health workforce shortages.

The project has earned Hawke’s Bay District Health Board a finalist’s place in the 2008 New Zealand Health Innovation Awards (HIA). It will compete against 19 other finalists, one of which is also from Hawke’s Bay.

Project Incubator began in 2007 with Flaxmere College which, as a decile one school, has a high proportion of students from low socio-economic communities. Project Incubator has since been introduced into a further four schools in Hawke’s Bay, plus three additional District Health Boards are now rolling it out through their regions. Due to a shortage of Māori in the health service, there is a particular focus on encouraging Māori students to study health subjects and choose health-related careers.

Workforce Development Consultant Wynn Schollum says all mentors and health sector participants are volunteers.

“Health professionals from the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board participate with the same group of Year 13 students throughout the year. They go into schools to share their personal experiences of life in the health service and provide additional online support throughout the programme. In each of the six classroom-based sessions, they also discuss a range of health issues ranging from diabetes to healthy lifestyles.”

At the end of the 2007 school year, the year 13 students from Flaxmere College involved with Project Incubator had enrolled into tertiary studies in areas of health sciences, nursing and computing.

“We are really excited about Project Incubator! Not only does it cultivate a future workforce for the health sector, it also provides information which will help students and whānau stay healthy and when necessary, access appropriate areas of the health sector,” says Wynn Schollum.

The HIA are a joint endeavour of the Ministry of Health and ACC. They were started in 2003 to recognise individuals and organisations that have developed new and innovative approaches to delivering better health services.

Further information about the HIA is available online at

This year’s HIA winners will be announced at the expo and gala dinner held on 4 November at the Wellington Town Hall.


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