A last minute boost to the new scholarship funding has seen 13 practices serving high need South Auckland communities take on new graduate nurses.
Health Minister Tony Ryall announced in September funding for 30 graduate nurses to be taken on by VCLA (very low cost access) general practices in 2014 but high interest saw the numbers boosted to 48 in the New Year and the scholarship fund to $2.4 million
Practices and their district health boards applied before Christmas to take up the $50,000 scholarship, which pays for the new grad’s salary and preceptor time for a year. The graduates also have to be signed up to their local DHB’s NETP (nursing entry to practice) programmes.
Ryall said many of the graduate nurses had been appointed and were working in communities including Kaikohe, Waitakere, Mangere, Murupara, Kawerau, Wairoa, Wanganui, and Aranui.
Karyn Sangster, chief nurse advisor primary and integrated care for Counties Manukau DHB, said the scholarship fund was a “fantastic initiative” and had boosted the number of primary care NETP places to 18 – with 13 of those VCLA scholars.
She said while all but one of the VCLA practices had taken on new graduates at some time before, it normally only had 20 primary health places over the whole year.
Sangster said the scholarships were particular exciting as the new graduates were additional staff, not just filling vacancies, so it was hoped that the increased workforce would help practices to meet government health targets and improve performance.
While the scholarships were only for 12 months one of the requirements for scholarship practices was to demonstrate how they could continue employing the new graduate after the year was up, said Sangster.
Auckland DHB expects to have four new graduates signed up to the NETP programme this year working in primary health with three of those under VCLA scholarships.
Waitemata has 12 graduates in its NETP programme working in either primary health or residential aged care and three of those are funded through the VCLA scholarship scheme.
Sangster said Counties Manukau also had two new graduates working in low decile secondary schools this year and they followed two graduates taken on by schools last year. She said some of the schools now had three nurses on the team so were in a position to take on a new graduate.