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End of degree studies the realisation of a dream

Media release: End of degree studies the realisation of a dream for nursing students in Kaitaia

Two nursing students in Kaitaia are anxiously awaiting the results of their state nursing exam – the last stretch in a 4-year educational journey.

Robyn Tepania (Ngāpuhi/Te Rarawa) and Mercy Zvavmwe began their studies with tutor Gayle Hill on NorthTec’s Foundation Studies programme at the Kaitaia campus in February 2007. “I hadn’t studied for 11 years,” said Mercy. “I found that essays were the hardest part, but Foundation Studies really helped my through, particularly when it came to things like learning how to do referencing.

“I actually wanted to be a midwife,” said Robyn, “and the only pathway was through nursing. A career advisor put me onto the Foundation Studies tutor at NorthTec and I went from there.”

The pair completed Foundation Studies and then studied nursing part-time for a year before taking on the challenge of studying full-time. “Online nursing in Kaitaia was a pilot programme when we started and Foundation Studies helped us to get on track – the biology paper in Foundation Studies was really useful in that respect.”

Studying on a programme that offered flexible learning options was great when it came to managing the demands of family life and study. “I could plan my own time,” said Mercy. “Being a Mum it meant that I could study when my children were at school or in bed. I didn’t feel isolated because I was working online. The tutors are really supportive, it’s as if they’re there even though they’re not physically there.”

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“The tutors made themselves available,” said Robyn. “I also utilised a lot of services in the community such as REAP (Rural Education Activities Programme). I was able to use computers there and could get feedback on essays.”

Robyn and Mercy both want to work as nurses in Kaitaia. Robyn is awaiting confirmation of a new role and Mercy is continuing with interviews. “It’s a tight work market and everybody in our group wants to work here,” said Mercy. “I’ve applied to Kaitaia Hospital and Whangarei Hospital, where I did my elective in the medical ward. But I was really inspired by the diabetic specialist nurse based in Kaitaia. I want to be like her, especially in terms of the way that she interacts with patients.”

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“I was born and bred here in Kaitaia and I want to stay here,” said Robyn. “I want to show our local community that it can be done. I was fortunate enough to get scholarship support from Te Runanga o Te Rarawa and I would like to use my skills for my people. I’m still deciding on my specialty I’ve enjoyed so many different areas and have loved the general ward, maternity and paediatrics.”

Mercy and Robyn are full of gratitude for the support of their families and friends that has allowed them to achieve their dream. “I wouldn’t have come this far without it,” said Robyn. “Both Mercy and I have school-aged children. Roles had to change to make it possible.” “My poor husband!” said Mercy. “He is a diesel mechanic but he had to come home and help with housework to give me time to study.”

Despite the sacrifices involved, the journey isn’t over yet. Both women see more study and professional development ahead. “This is the end of the beginning,” said Robyn. “The learning journey continues. I want to acknowledge my tupuna for giving me that extra essence to strive for this dream.”


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