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Tertiary Students Encourage Rural Health Careers In Waikato And Bay Of Plenty

In a bid to tackle the severe lack of health professionals in rural communities, a team of tertiary students are heading to country areas of Waikato and Bay of Plenty to promote rural health careers to high school students.

They are trying to inspire more young rural people to pursue careers as GPs, nurses, or other health practitioners as part of Hauora Taiwhenua’s nationwide Rural Health Careers Programme.

Hauora Taiwhenua Chief Executive Dr Grant Davidson highlights how new research shows there are large gaps in rural healthcare provision.

"Introducing students to rural health careers early on is crucial. We need to equip and show them that rural health is a fantastic option. Being an integral part of the community is one of the many great aspects of being a health professional in a rural area: be it as a doctor, nurse, midwife or other profession.”

“It’s about elevating the status of rural practice, empowering the profession, and empowering the people we serve.”

Using the energy and enthusiasm of tertiary students on health training pathways is a great way to expose rural youth to possible health careers. Providing the opportunity for youth in rural areas to discuss career options with tertiary students near their own age is a great way to motivate and educate them.

It is also a practical way for tertiary health students to give back, with many from rural backgrounds sharing their real-life experiences.

James Ropati, a medicine student on the 2023 programme, described how the conversation he had made him appreciative of the diligent work that is being done, and the amount of work that still needs to be done.

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“Generally, living in a rural community like theirs will come with its significant barriers and social, mental, welfare health needs. So, the students experiences and lives, and their families' lives, thus far are completely valid,

“The opportunity to empower them has been such an honour.”

The workshops are interactive, giving hands-on experience with medical and dental equipment and a chance to talk first-hand with young people who have already embarked on this journey.

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