Boosting the number of men in the health professions is the aim of the inaugural Men’s Health Trust scholarships awarded recently.
Two nursing and three medical imaging students at Unitec Institute of Technology were the winners of the $5000 scholarships that the trust hopes in the future to offer around the country.
Graeme Washer, spokesman for The New Zealand Men’s Health Trust, set up to foster improvements in men’s health, said it had been looking at ways to attract more men into the health professions.
At present about seven per cent of nurses in New Zealand are male.
Wendy Horne, the Unitec executive dean of social and health sciences, said the scholarships grew out of an informal conversation between the Trust and a Unitec staff member.
“We just need to encourage more men to enter the health sciences to support the promotion of men’s health and to be role models for men.”
Washer said any strategies that get more men into nursing and other health sciences would have a “significant and positive impact on men’s health services in New Zealand”.
“New Zealand men have a lower life expectancy than women and the NZMHT is working to raise the life expectancy of men by increasing awareness of and knowledge about their health, by using available education and communication channels.”
Horne said having more male students would also bring a different dimension to the classroom and learning.
She believed scholarships would help bring more men into the fold by raising awareness and also men considering nursing could be encouraged to apply if they knew the sector was wanting to attract more men.
Horne said there were 22 applicants for the first five scholarships and it had been very impressed by the calibre of the applicants, who had to write an essay on men’s health and provide background details on themselves.
The Trust supports a variety of organisations working with a primary focus on male issues, including research.