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Interest jumps in nursing courses

UCOL Wairarapa is seeing high interest in first-year nursing courses for next year.
Since applications opened in mid-August, 22 people have applied for the first-year Bachelor of Nursing. These applications were sent before UCOL released its 2023 marketing campaign.
Campus director Carrie McKenzie said it was great news.
“Our enrolments dropped in 2022 – likely because of the high employment. But for next year we’re already seeing a large number of applicants.”
The institute released a diploma in enrolled nursing for next year, which takes 18 months fulltime or three years part-time.
McKenzie was also pleased to see a mix of young and mature students enrolled, the average age for the degree was 29.5 years old, and the average age for the diploma was 43.
“Usually, our enrolments would be people in their late 20s to 40s, but this time we’ve had a lot of interest from school leavers.”
She said most UCOL course graduates end up staying in the region.
“By the time they finish, they have partners and kids at the school. Our courses are industry-focused, we communicate with employers, and we offer courses that fit where the demand is.”
She said there was a higher portion of school leavers showing interest in study in Wairarapa.
The conversion of applications to enrolments was dependent on many factors. In 2022, 36 per cent of first-year Bachelor of Nursing applicants were converted into enrolments, compared to 59 per cent in 2021.
Wairarapa Hospital head of emergency Norman Gray said it was good for the long term, but it was still three years down the line.
“We still have empty slots in the department. We still have shortages but I’m pretty sure that is nationwide.”
He said New Zealand didn’t train enough of its own nurses, and currently immigration made it hard for nurses to become residents
NZ Nurses Organisation president Anne Daniels was pleased with the large turnout.
“We absolutely need more nurses. We can’t rely on overseas nurses, we need to grow our own, and we’re capable.
“I’m very interested in the strategies UCOL used to reach out and attract students.”
Daniels said nursing offered strong career paths.
“It’s an exciting career. Nursing has a strong career path to become a specialist or a nurse practitioner.”
She said the next step was to make sure the students have the support to complete the course.
“Thirty per cent of nursing students drop out. When students are doing their placements, they’re doing quite a number of hours under supervision. They’re not paid because they’re learning rather than learning.
“Most of those students also have financial pressures, some have families and a mortgage.”
Daniels said mature nursing students were becoming more common.
“Back in the day you chose your career and that was it for life. Now it’s becoming more common to change careers.”

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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