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Nursing student survey report shows training system costing us nurses

New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 16 February 2024

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) has released a report on its 2023 Student Survey showing that nursing students face significant barriers to completing their studies, particularly around finances, stress and cultural support – and it’s costing us nearly a third of our new nurses.

The survey was completed by 1406 NZNO student members, and NZNO National Student Unit Co-chair Shannyn Bristowe said the results were really clear.

“At a time of health system crisis, when we desperately need more homegrown nurses, the Government and nursing schools really need to pay attention to what they can do to encourage students to stay in their studies and come out well and ready to nurse.

“Nearly a third (30 percent) of students do not complete their studies and fixing these issues would significantly increase the number of nursing graduates each year.”

Many respondents said they felt moderately or excessively stressed; and they believed students should be given financial help during clinical placements which sees them working full time without pay for up to nine weeks – and often out of town.

Ms Bristowe said paying students the minimum or living wage while on placements would make a massive difference to graduate numbers.

“Nursing students need assistance while they study. Help with paying off student loans after graduation, as the Government proposes, is appreciated but it really misses the point and comes too late to make a difference.”

A second major barrier emerging from the results is institutional racism and a lack of cultural support for Māori and Pacific students.

NZNO National Student Unit Co-chair Stacey Wharewera said Māori and Pacific students are essential and that better cultural support in nurse training would result in a health system that better meets the needs of Māori and Pacific peoples.

“The lack of appropriate cultural support in nursing studies is an issue the Government and training providers need to urgently address.”

The survey is conducted every two years to identify issues student nurses are facing in their studies and to understand how they could be better supported.

The survey report is available on the NZNO website.


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