Celebrating Nursing Students on International Nurses Day

An image of a nursing student at work

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on vital work nurses do each day. And International Nurses Day, 12 May, is a good time to recognise those who care for patients while sometimes putting their own health at risk. 

The Bay of Plenty’s primary educational pathway for new nurses, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, continues educating student/tauira nurses during the pandemic, with tutors teaching remotely while students are at home supporting their families/whānau during Alert Level 4. Year 3 students will return to clinical inpatient areas in both Lakes and Bay of Plenty District Health Boards from this week. 

Toi Ohomai Academic Leader, Nursing, Deborah Sims says around 350 nursing students are enrolled in at the Institute’s Windermere (Tauranga) and Mokoia (Rotorua) campuses. Sims says students/tauira in the three-year programme get a high number of clinical hours – 1300 – in a variety of settings such as hospitals, primary healthcare practices, mental health facilities and aged residential care. 

“Nurses can work anywhere. There’s such a variety of roles for nurses, and that’s come to the fore in the pandemic.” 

Sims acknowledges the work her colleagues have undertaken during and continue to be challenging times. Our students are keen to return to support them and the wider healthcare teams. 

Sims says Toi Ohomai supports undergraduate students to become registered nurses in a future where critical thinking, nurse prescribing, digital technologies play an important role in healthcare delivery. So will empathy. 

“Our students must have the ability to also be caring and compassionate. This has been never been overt as we have seen throughout Alert Level 4 with nurses supporting people while they are dying because families haven’t been allowed in.” 

The Institute’s pass rate last year was nearly 99% for registered nurses, just above the national average. A report from Nurse Education in the Tertiary Sector released on 31 March shows 93 registered nurses graduated Toi Ohomai as of last November, and 83 of those were employed in New Zealand. Local nurses are practicing in a range of areas including public health, mental health, maternity and older persons health.

Sims says Bachelor of Nursing graduates from Toi Ohomai possess a wealth of knowledge and skills, such as the ability to work in a bi-cultural context, keep current on science, research and provide safe care while collaborating with other professionals, patients, whānau family, iwi and communities. 

A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report called State of the World’s Nursing says we need “massive acceleration” of nursing education, and we must invest in more training and education to ensure we have nurses to safeguard our population’s health. A global shortage of nearly six million nurses was projected for 2018. 

To address the shortage by 2030, the WHO says the total number of nurse graduates would need to increase by 8% per year on average, alongside an improved capacity to employ and retain these graduates. The organisation estimates the world will need 9 million more nurses and midwives to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. 

2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, to coincide with the 200th anniversary of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale’s birth on 12 May, 1820. 

Sims says Nightingale championed hygiene measures we’re all told to follow during COVID-19 in 2020, including hand washing and cleaning – foundation skills taught in Year 1 of the registered nursing degree. 

“Nightingale found what made the biggest difference to soldiers’ recovery during the Crimean War was the implementation of handwashing. The foundation of nursing is really prominent during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the general public is realising how important those measures are.” 

Toi Ohomai also runs the Nursing Competence Assessment programme for internationally qualified nurses to become registered in New Zealand. 

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