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Published Wednesday 1 Jun 2022

The next line of future Māori nurses and midwives got a little taste of what is to come when high school students attended an annual full-day exposure at Wellington Regional Hospital recently.

The Nurse and Midwifery Exposure Day (NED) – part of the Kia Ora Hauora/2DHB Career Pathway Programme – was attended by Year 9-11 students from six different schools in the Wellington region.

The programme was developed in response to the need to grow our Māori and Pasifika workforce. NED gives students a valuable insight to the roles within hospitals and potentially the wider health system and a chance to ask questions of health professionals and gain hands-on experience of relevant tasks.

Throughout the Nurse and Midwifery Exposure Day, the students spent 20mins in each room in the Sim Centre being exposed to six different Nursing and Midwifery roles. Each room had a fun hands-on activity to participate in, such as putting a cast on someone, hoping to excite and inspire the students to consider health as a career option.

Kia Ora Hauroa Central Region Coordinator Leigh Andrews said additional Māori health professionals were needed more than ever and getting workforce numbers up started with events like this.

“We definitely need more Māori professionals, particularly more nurses and midwives, so this event is hugely important. We need to have a workforce that represents the population we serve, so at the moment within the Capital & Coast catchment is about 11 percent Māori, and with Capital & Coast DHB employment stats there is only five to six per cent, so we need to double our Māori workforce, and these rangatahi are the start of the pipeline.”

She added that ‘every whānau should have a nurse’, and that this was another major reason for hosting such an event.

“Coming into the hospital can be quite daunting because Māori and Pasifika people can be quite whakama (shy/embarrassed), and in some cases they do not really share what is going on with them. So to have a health professional in your whānau, there is so much more benefits directly and immediately for your whānau but then also as a health professional dealing with patients who can understand them on a deeper level.”

There was no shortage of aspiring nurses on the day with many learning important aspects of what becoming a nurse or midwife is all about, but having a bit of fun at the same time.

Maia Cherrington of St Mary’s College said she aspires to be a Māori midwife, following in the footsteps of many members of her whānau before her, because more are needed.

“I came today because I want to be a Māori midwife because the past generations of my family have done that. That is very important to me because I want to carry on that legacy of my family, but also because we need more Māori midwives because there are not many at the moment.”

Taking care of others is something Ahena Patelesio from St Catherine’s College has always had a heart for. She said having a chance to see what nursing was about at the exposure was exciting for her because she felt nursing is a way she feels she could fulfil that goal of helping others.

“I wanted to try something new because my family work all over the place in different areas from health and I have always wanted to do something where I can take care of people. This is a great way for me to do that so am excited to be here.”

Samantha Hart from Onslow College said midwifery is one of the future career paths she is looking into so did not think twice about attending the exposure when it was announced.

“When I saw this opportunity I wanted to take it. There are a couple of things that are on my mind about what to do in the future and midwifing is one of them. So I am here to get more experience and really looking forward to learning more about it because the exposure has been great!”

Leigh said everyone involved had a fun time but for her it’s knowing that the students were going to leave the event knowing that nursing and midwifery is an amazing career path to choose.

“One of the outcomes for me is that the kids are going to home and share that they have had a really good experience here and that the staff are friendly here too. So I want them to share that with their whānau that the hospital is a safe place to come.”