New grad programmes settled for mental health

January 2010

The mental health sector is looking forward to 2010 after the restructured and sometimes controversial new graduate and postgraduate training places were finally decided in December.

The late review and re-contracting of providers and programmes for 2010 prompted some backlash from the sector, particularly in the South Island where no new graduate provider was selected.

But, after initially being unsuccessful, Canterbury District Health Board is now contracted to be one of four providers of new graduate programmes in 2010.

Robyn Shearer, chief executive of Te Pou – the agency that administers mental health clinical training funding – said that while change was challenging, the outcome was “positive” with 25 more new graduate places in 2010 and the new clinical leadership programme providing a pathway to a master’s qualification.

College of Mental Health Nurses president Heather Casey said Te Pou had acknowledged the difficulties of this year’s process, which had served as a “platform to move forward positively”. She noted that positive changes resulting from the review included acknowledgement of addiction issues, the increase in new graduate places and replacement of the previous advanced practice course with the more flexible clinical leadership programme.

Alex Craig, head of the national directors of mental health nursing, said the leadership programme in particular showed Te Pou had listened to the sector as previously only programmes up to the level of postgraduate certificate were funded. She said historically this had worked but with nurses now leaving new graduate programmes already with a postgraduate certificate it had been time to widen what was funded.

The University of Auckland, Massey University and University of Otago would provide the new clinical leadership programme with up to 42 places available. Te Pou also announced programmes in co-existing substance use and mental health and a diploma in cognitive behaviour therapy in mental health and addiction.

Meanwhile, Canterbury director of mental health nursing Stu Bigwood said the DHB would also be a provider for West Coast new graduates and would subcontract the University of Otago’s Christchurch School of medicine to be the academic provider.

Bigwood said while the initial tender had been difficult, the board was happy with the outcome and everybody was working hard to build relationships.

Of the about 260 new graduate and postgraduate places funded by Te Pou next year, up to 182 are dedicated to nursing with the remainder open to nurses and allied mental health professionals.