Nursing students start three year diploma at new school
After being closed for five years the Cook Islands Nursing School re-opened yesterday in Rarotonga, with twelve students planning to take their skills back to the group's outer islands.
The head of the newly relaunched nursing school in the Cook Islands says the twelve students, who began their studies yesterday, will be taught how to manage a wide range of medical conditions, how to promote public health, and how to deliver good maternity care in isolated island environments.
Principal of the School of Nursing based at Rarotonga Hospital, Mary McManus, told Jenny Meyer about the new nursing qualification.
MARY MCMANUS: The registration will be a Cook Island registration. It is hoped that we will be able to get NZQA approval and that's the academic approval for the diploma before the end of next year. And in the future, we are hoping to have a degree completion programme for registered nurses offered here but through one of the New Zealand schools of nursing.
JENNY MEYER: And can you tell me a little bit about the 12 students, are they all women and what sort of ages are they?
MM: There's 11 women and one man. The students' age range from 18 to 40, so there's a range of school leavers who are coming in to take up nursing as a first career and then there's a number of others who have either had families or have been working as nurse aids in the Ministry of Health, who now have a desire to go on to become a registered nurse.
JM: Who will teach them?
MM: Myself, and I've got one other - two other teachers. One... has come from Fiji and he's had some experience in teaching nursing in Fiji. And he's come over here and will be teaching with me. And the third is a local woman, who's here and starting up teaching. But she's been working here in the Ministry of Health as a registered nurse for many years.
JM: I guess there are a range of skills that they will need perhaps when they are working in isolation in the future in some of those outer islands. What is going to be the focus of the programme?
MM: Yes, working in the outer islands you don't know what's going to come across your office or your clinic on any day to day. So you actually need to be quite an expert in assessment and diagnostic skills and be able to manage
all sorts of conditions aswell as that you need to be effective in promoting health and wellness both to individuals and the communities out there. You have very limited opportunity to call on extra medical support or help and sometimes actually limited ability to refer people out so the nurses are working to a very very high level and at quite a sophisticated standard. In New Zealand, we would probably have our most advanced practice nurses working out in those islands but here it might be a new graduate nurse.
JM: So some of those nurses won't even have a doctor or a midwife to work with then?
MM: No, some of those islands do not have a doctor.
JM: And what about maternity care? do they cover that in their training?
MM: Yes they do, they have quite a high level of that and again that's a big difference from New Zealand. These nurses need to come out ready to manage all pregnancy and delivery and post-natal care and they may be doing that in a place where there are limited resources.
JM: And you are happy that you have dealt with those gaps in the curriculum that you ran into strife with back in 2008/2009?
MM: I think if I look back on the curriculum there a lot of it was around the lack of experienced teachers and the need to develop a more educative curriculum. Definitely the curriculum we have developed this time is to focus a lot more on the development of thinking and to have a person coming out of that programme at a level where they are ready and able to undertake graduate and post-graduate studies.
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