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Graduate Nurses to Help Bay’s High Needs Practices

4 February, 2014

Graduate Nurses to Help Bay’s High Needs Practices

A graduate nurse who this week takes up a role under a Ministry of Health initiative says she has a very special reason to put her heart and soul into her new job.

“My husband Garry died from cancer four years ago and I would love to be able to give back a little of the care and support we received,” said Robyn Wickham, who will be working at Bethlehem’s Ngati Kahu Hauora. “To be able to offer that to others would be very rewarding for me.”

Mrs Wickham is one of five Bay of Plenty nurses offered a one-year scholarship through funding announced by Health Minister Tony Ryall last September. Mr Ryall pledged an extra $16 million investment over four years to support Very Low Cost Access (VLCA) practices, which includes a $2.4 million scholarship fund for graduate nurses.

“I’m really looking forward to working in the community rather than in a hospital,” said mother-of-four Mrs Wickham, who worked in administration and accounts before beginning a three-year Bachelor of Nursing at Waiariki Polytechnic.

“I love people and ‘family’ is incredibly important to me. Often it’s the nurse who has more time to establish those relationships with families which give people the chance to open up. That trust and extra knowledge can make the treatment offered more tailored and appropriate.

“Having been studying for three years, I’m looking forward to getting on with the work,” she added.

The nurse placements, secured by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB), will support General Practices serving the most vulnerable communities. There are 10 VLCA practices within the Bay – those that serve the most high-needs populations – meaning half have received graduate nurses. Two placements are with practices aligned to Western BOPPHO, two with Nga Maatapuna Oranga, and one with Eastern BOP PHA. The scholarship fund will provide 48 placements nationwide.

BOPDHB Planning and Funding Primary Health Portfolio Manager Phil Back welcomed the initiative.

“From a DHB perspective it’s great the Ministry of Health recognises the unique issues of sustainability for VLCA practices in the Bay of Plenty; particularly those that have high Maori and high needs populations,” he said.

Ngati Kahu Hauora Practice Manager Judy Harpur said they were delighted to be welcoming Mrs Wickham to their team.

“I was very impressed with Robyn’s commitment and passion for the work she will be undertaking,” said Mrs Harpur. “We know she will prove a vital asset. The role will develop as we move forward but we envision Robyn providing clinical support for our GPs and practice manager.

“She will be working with our populations, screening clients, for example in cervical and breast screening. But it goes deeper than that, it’s not just about the patient, it’s about the whanau, that engagement and developing relationships. Robyn will be a first contact for the whanau.

“This role will be critical in us meeting our annual PHO Performance Programme (PPP) targets and for helping reduce the Māori health disparities which still exist.”

The graduate nurse funding is for one year but Mrs Harpur said they were already looking to the future.

“We would not want to lose Robyn, we know that already, so will be making provisions to take her on permanently.”

Mrs Harpur thanked the Ministry of Health, the BOPDHB and the Western Bay PHO for their part in securing Mrs Wickham’s services for the year.


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