But you can be sure that somehow 2,000-plus nurses will still have managed to squeeze in postgraduate study, despite the pressures of winter illnesses, covering for sick workmates, looking after their families young or old, and trying to fit in looking after themselves.

As a journalist covering nursing for more than a decade, the number of nurses who sacrifice ‘me time’ for study time has always made me feel somewhat inadequate.

One of our ‘day in a life’ nurses a few years ago wrote about waking before 5am, grabbing her thermal socks, wrapping a blanket around her legs and fitting in a couple of hours study for her master’s degree before waking her sons and getting them off to school and herself off to work. She acknowledged she was a lark but I’m sure that there are owls out there doing the equivalent at the other end of the working day.

Such commitment has been rewarded, with Nursing Council annual practising certificate data indicating that 3,000-plus nurses now have clinical master’s degrees in nursing and thousands more have master’s degrees in more than 25 other areas, from public policy to tropical health and bioethics to health management. And that’s not forgetting the many more who have postgraduate certificates and diplomas and the growing number with doctorates.

For the past decade the funding model for postgraduate nursing study – and the dollars in the funding pool – have remained virtually unchanged. The pool has seen many, but far from all, nurses have their study funded.

This spring the sector is awaiting news of a proposed postgraduate funding shake-up for health. The nursing sector, for one, hopes that the hard yards put in by nurses pursuing postgraduate qualifications will be recognised, with nursing not getting a penny less than it should and perhaps even a few pennies more as the country’s largest health professional workforce (see p. 4 for more).


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