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Scholarships for Maori nurses will help rural communities

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The first recipients of the Medibank Community Fund telenursing scholarships for Maori nurses will be recognised at a mihimihi tomorrow (May 7) with partners Te Rau Matatini in Wellington.

An increase in Maori from rural areas using telenursing services including Healthline prompted Medibank to create two postgraduate telenursing scholarships for Maori nurses. The Medibank Community Fund partnered with Maori workforce development organisation Te Rau Matatini to administer the nursing scholarships. Each scholarship is worth up to $10,000 per annum for three years, and covers a range of costs associated with training, mentoring, work placements and attendance at relevant nursing conferences.

The two nurses receiving the first scholarships are Putiputi McMahon from Kaitaia and Jewel Reti from Whangarei. Both work with isolated rural communities with significant issues accessing health care. Putiputi believes telenursing can improve the health of Maori. "Many Maori I work with cannot access health care through their GPs due to cost, distance and poor transport. I see telenursing as another tool we can use to provide health care in rural areas - and we need all the tools we can get."

Jewel Reti established and coordinates the first telehealth initiative for clients requiring opioid substitution treatment in Northland and has seen, first hand, the benefits it gives to rural clients. "We have supported a single parent of two, through telenursing. The emotional and financial stress of finding someone to look after the children, then find transport and money to travel two hours each way to see our specialists would be enormous for her - a real barrier. Telenursing was the ideal solution."

Jewel is particularly looking forward to spending time with the experienced telenurses employed by Medibank Health Solutions and is keen to find a mentor among them to help her achieve best telenursing practice and effective quality processes.

General Manager of Medibank Health Solutions New Zealand, Andrea Pettett, says the scholarships build on the years of telenursing experience Medibank has running Healthline and support further development of the Maori nursing workforce.

"The Medibank Community Fund wants to make a real contribution to the future health and wellbeing of New Zealand communities, and telenursing offers considerable value to people living in rural and remote regions."

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