Tertiary health students spread the word about rural health careers

Over the next two weeks 30 tertiary health students in four teams will spread the word about rural health careers to 33 rural schools throughout the Manawatu, Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa; Tasman, Marlborough, and West Coast; Bay of Plenty and Gisborne; and the Coromandel.

Hauora Taiwhenua Rural Health Network’s rural school visits have become a popular initiative for rural schools throughout Aotearoa, with many providing positive feedback and asking us to return.

“We have had the rural health careers promotion programme in three years ago and at least seven of the fifteen present in that group are now Year 13 and heading into the medical field in one area or another,” says Michele Liddle, Careers Advisor at Matamata College.

The interactive health career workshops run by the students during the visits have proven to be an effective way of engaging and inspiring school pupils to think about the different health disciplines by getting them hands-on with medical and dentistry equipment.

The students also share a wide range of information about career pathways as well as advice to encourage rural rangitahi to think about their futures and what they’d like to study.

Our hope is that after the rural health career sessions, pupils will feel inspired to pursue careers in rural health and take a step forward on that journey.

The rural school visits are a renowned activity of the Rural Health Careers Promotion Programme, led by Hauora Taiwhenua in partnership with the Students of Rural Health Chapter and funded by Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health.

This year 73 tertiary students representing Ara Institute of Canterbury, Southern Institute of Technology, Otago Polytechnic, Waikato Institute of Technology and more applied to be involved in this round of rural school visits.

During these trips, the four groups of tertiary students will visit local health providers to meet with health professionals and gain insight into rural community health.

These experiences help the tertiary students foster connections within rural communities where they may consider working when they graduate.

This programme is integral to our efforts to address the chronic health workforce shortages throughout New Zealand, which are being felt acutely in rural areas.

Hauora Taiwhenua acknowledges that the long-term solution to this crisis requires us to train more health professionals here in New Zealand and prepare them to work rurally where they are needed most.

Through the Rural Health Careers Promotion programme, our goal is to ensure that we have an enthusiastic, resilient, and robust rural health workforce in the future.