New Zealand Nurses Organisation media release, 27 December 2023
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa (NZNO) bi-annual National Nursing Student Survey closed late in 2023.
Further details and commentary will be released in 2024 once analysis is complete. However, a preliminary analysis reveals student nurses face a number of significant barriers to completing their studies that must be removed if we are to attract and retain students and grow our own nursing workforce.
The 2023 survey was completed by more than 1400 student NZNO members up from 685 in 2021 and Co-chair of the NZNO National Student Unit Shannyn Bristowe said issues of hardship are particularly intense for Māori tauira (students) who typically enter nursing at a later stage in life, often having families and increased responsibilities.
“There is a particularly important need for appropriate cultural support and pastoral care which was cited as integral to students feeling safe and understood in both their study and clinical placements.
“Māori and Pasifika tauira often face unique practical and cultural barriers, including travel, whānau obligations and language difficulties.
“But these nurses are essential to the people of Aotearoa New Zealand receiving the culturally appropriate care that will improve health outcomes for Māori and Pasifika and save health system resources. We need to find ways to support Māori and Pasifika students in particular.”
She said the survey is one way nursing students can express their concerns and let the Government know what changes it could make to attract and retain more of them.
“We’re hoping the New Government will listen and adjust the way it plans to support nursing students.”
“Fewer students would drop out if they received financial assistance while they completed their courses. Helping pay off graduates’ student loans is a nice gesture from Government, but it doesn’t address the real hardship they face while they study,” Ms Bristowe said.
“Many just can’t carry on because of financial pressure added to other stresses.
“We face an alarming nursing crisis long into the future. If we’re serious about addressing that crisis, why can’t we find a way to give nurses free training as we do with many other essential trades and professions? Most students would have no problem with some form of bonding in return.”
Another predominant theme was how hardship impacts on physical and mental wellbeing. The cost of clinical placements during training (petrol, parking, travel and accommodation were identified as a particular pressure point and 84 percent of respondents said students should receive some form of financial compensation during clinical experience.
“Supporting nursing students financially now, instead of helping pay off their loans after they’ve graduated, could see us producing up to a third more students and if the Government really has the wellbeing of the health system to heart it needs to reduce every single barrier it can. This is vital for the future wellbeing of us all.”
Interestingly, 33 percent of respondents had been impacted by extreme weather events, with flooding, road closures, and the cancelling of clinical placement days cited.
However, Ms Bristowe said the most significant concern from the survey was that more than 30 percent of respondents said the barriers made them question whether nursing was right for them.
Media inquiries: Rob Zorn, NZNO Media and Communications Advisor: 027 431 2617 | firstname.lastname@example.org.