A pilot to boost Māori nurse numbers in primary health care is underway in South Auckland with four graduates employed and a New Year intake to follow.
The Counties-Manukau District Health Board and ProCare initiative provides a financial incentive for practices to employ Māori new graduates and offers cultural support on top of education and mentoring support provided through the DHB's Nurse Entry to Practice (NETP) programme.
Lorraine Hetaraka-Stevens, director of nursing for the ProCare Primary Health Organisation (PHO), said ProCare and the DHB argue that it is a good investment to have more Māori nurses in primary health who can effectively engage with Māori whānau and influence positive lifestyle changes.
"Coupled with burgeoning health demand, significant nursing workforce shortages are also predicted," said Hetaraka-Stevens. Despite this in recent years there had been an increase in unemployed Māori new graduate nurses with the current systems and processes not being successful in getting 100% employment of graduate nurses
The pilot increases the number of primary care NETP positions available and is championed across Counties Manukau Health (the DHB) by director of nursing Denise Kivell and chief nursing advisory primary and integrated care Karyn Sangster.
"Increasing Māori health workforce participation rates is fundamental to improving the quality and effectiveness of care," said Sangster. "A highly trained and robust Māori health workforce will better enable us to meet the needs of our diverse communities and populations.”
The pilot also involves Manukau Institute of Technology and MIT nursing school head Willem Fourie said it was working collaboratively with ProCare and Counties Manukau Health (the DHB) to increase primary care clinical placements for Māori nursing student in their transition semester.
"The idea is to introduce primary care as a career option early in their studies and then to place them in a supportive primary care environment during their transition," said Fourie. The pilot also increases the number of primary care NETP positions.
Hetaraka-Stevens said the pilot offered employment to five graduate nurses who had selected primary care as an option and identified as Māori and successfully recruited four (one withdrew for family reasons) who all started work in the September NETP intake.
She said it was currently in the recruitment process for the New Year intake with nine potential applicants for the five pilot places.
The pilot provides an additional $10,000 funding per Māori new graduate employed on top of the usual NETP funding as a financial incentive to practices. To be eligible to take part in the pilot practices must demonstrate a commitment to high needs populations and offer ongoing employment to the new graduate nurse. Graduates have to meet the NETP criteria and the selection process also includes a panel interview with Māori representation.
Hetaraka-Stevens said she and other Māori primary and secondary care nurse leaders would facilitate the pilot's cultural support aspects by holding regular support group hui to mentor the graduates. The support group would provide the new graduates opportunities to share learning, seek advice and support and also provide the opportunity to nurture the development of emerging clinical leaders.
Hetaraka Stevens is a member of the advisory group of Ngā Manukura ō Āpōpō, the Māori nursing workforce development programme, and a graduate of the Ngā Manukura leadership programme. She said the pilot graduates in the future could also apply to take part in the Ngā Manukura leadership programme.