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Seven new rural nurse scholarships announced

14 October 2004

Seven new rural nurse scholarships announced

Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor today announced seven new scholarships to help rural nurses attain the highest level of clinical nursing expertise.

The seven recipients– all registered nurses in rural areas - were chosen from 20 applicants for the Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner (Rural) Scholarships.

They live in Waipapakauri, (Northland), Tolaga Bay (East Coast), Murchison, Pamapuria (Northland), Omarama (North Otago), Taupo and Temuka.

The scholarships – worth a total of $280,000 -mean the nurses can take a year off to complete the necessary study to bring their qualifications up to nurse practitioner level, with prescribing rights.

Mr O’Connor said nurse practitioners were already making a valuable contribution to improving the health of New Zealanders.

"They have the potential to make a significant difference in rural communities through the delivery of essential health services. This is particularly the case in areas where there are GP shortages.’’

In 2003, $240,000 in scholarship money was awarded to six registered nurses practising in rural areas who wanted to take study leave this year to complete their nurse practitioner requirements.

One recipient, Heather Maw of Karamea, said the scholarship helped her make the most of a "huge opportunity’’. She believes nurse practitioners make a big difference, particularly in rural areas.

"Nurse practitioners are able to drive up health status in rural communities – it's not just emergency work that they do, but wellness and prevention, working alongside people and communities on issues like obesity and diabetes.’’

Another 2003 scholarship recipient, Deborah Kennett of Stewart Island, described her study leave as invaluable. ``It’s reinforced the importance of the 'whole team effort' in health care,’’ she said.

She said she'd gained new ideas about how to improve health services on Stewart Island, as well as how to improve the health of people living in isolated communities.

There are currently 11 nurse practitioners working around New Zealand. They provide a wide range of assessment, treatment interventions, health promotion and disease management including differential diagnosis, ordering, conducting and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory tests. They can also administer treatment and therapies, including prescribing medications.

The nurse practitioner role was introduced by the Nursing Council in 2001 and recognises registered nurses as nurse practitioners when they have a clinically focused masters degree or equivalent, have four to five years experience at an advanced level, and have met the council's assessment criteria and competencies.


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