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Rural nurse postgraduate programme announced

Rural nurse postgraduate programme announced

Primary health care nurses can now expand their skills, thanks to a new postgraduate diploma for rural nurses announced today by Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor.

Primary health care nurses can now expand their skills and knowledge, thanks to a new postgraduate diploma for rural nurses announced today by the Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor.

The programme will allow 40 rural nurses to study fulltime over two years. Students will be enrolled at Auckland University, with the diploma course jointly run by the University and the Institute of Rural Health.

The first 20 postgraduate students will enrol in July and another 20 start in February 2005.

Mr O'Connor said the diploma was an amazing opportunity for rural nurses, and rural health as a whole.

"Access to education has always been difficult for nurses from isolated, rural areas. This funding package allows for a national approach to support advanced study, which will ultimately help improve health outcomes for rural New Zealand."

The Ministry of Health's Clinical Training Agency (CTA) is helping develop and deliver the diploma, in consultation with rural communities and other rural health professionals. The diploma will be predominantly extramural, but will involve some classroom, clinical and onsite training.

Government funding will cover course fees, assistance with travel and accommodation costs and payments to employers to help replace nurses while they're studying.

The diploma programme was yet another positive government initiative to improve rural health, Mr O'Connor said.

"Just last week, we announced an extension of the Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner (rural) scholarship scheme, which will allow six registered nurses to take a year off to complete further study. Both that programme and the diploma will help strengthen New Zealand's rural workforce and improve primary health care."

Institute of Rural Health Chief Executive Robin Steed, was pleased that the CTA was working with rural groups, including the Institute, to deliver the contract.

"We and our colleagues at Auckland University, have listened to what rural nurses and their colleagues have been saying and we believe that this programme will address their needs," Ms Steed said.

Associate Professor Judy Kilpatrick, who heads Auckland University's School of Nursing, said she was delighted with the initiative.

"It's hoped the programme will further establish innovative healthcare delivery with GPs and other health professionals in rural settings."


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