Government to fund five more rural nurse scholarships

  • Ruth Dyson

The government will fund five more rural nursing scholarships in 2005 to improve access to primary health care in rural areas, ACC Minister Ruth Dyson and Rural Affairs Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

“ACC will fund five experienced rural nurses to complete their studies for a rural nursing Masters Degree. This will enable them to apply to become rural nurse practitioners, with the right to prescribe some medications. They will help ensure that ACC claimants in rural areas have access to primary health care services, especially in areas where there is a shortage of GPs.”

The five successful scholarship winners come from Kaikohe, Dargaville, Kaeo, Turangi and Stewart Island.

The scholarships – worth a total of $183,000 (excl GST) - will be used to support the five nurses and pay their tuition fees while they are released on study leave for one year in 2005.

They will join seven rural nurses who received similar scholarships earlier this year, through an additional $280,000 (excl GST) of public health funding, and another six announced in October last year.

Minister for Rural Affairs and Associate Minister of Health Damien O'Connor said the services provided by nurse practitioners in rural areas were essential.
"They can make a huge difference in rural communities, particularly those that might be experiencing GP shortages."

Nurse practitioners provide for innovative ways of reaching communities and meeting health needs across all sectors, as well as building on and complementing existing services.

The nurse practitioner role was introduced by the Nursing Council in 2001 and recognises registered nurses as nurse practitioners when they have a clinically focused masters degree or equivalent, have four to five years experience at an advanced level, and have met the council's assessment criteria and competencies.