The first cohort of bachelor of nursing students from Ara in Timaru is set to graduate, and 15 students sat their final-year exams last week.
Ara began offering the bachelor’s degree at the Timaru campus in 2018, in response to community demand, positioning the institute as the health training hub in South Canterbury.
Karen Edgecombe, Ara’s academic manager, department of health practice, said three years on, there had been a large increase in application numbers for Timaru’s bachelor of nursing programme.
“Having the bachelor of nursing degree based at Ara’s Timaru campus has provided the opportunity for students to participate in high-quality nursing education in their home town.
“The students have been given the opportunity to embed their nursing practice into the South Canterbury experience, which will assist them in their transition to registered nurse practice.”
Ms Edgecombe said the programme’s success could be partly attributed to the success of the collaborative relationship between Ara and the South Canterbury District Health Board (SCDHB), which provides clinical placements for the students during their studies.
“We would not have been able to do this without the ongoing support and assistance of the SCDHB and we are thankful to their staff for their continuing support and encouragement of the nursing students to provide high-quality nursing and health care experiences.”
Associate director of nursing and midwifery at the DHB, Anna Wheeler, said the sector was excited to see local graduates employed into practice.
“Over the last five years, new graduate recruitment has grown significantly, from approximately 8-10 per year, to around 18-20.
“Placement areas of practice have grown to include ICU, ED, theatre and paediatrics, which have traditionally not received graduates.
“Across our sector we are seeing significant growth in graduate recruitment in aged care, primary care and mental health.”
Ms Wheeler said Ara’s degree programme in Timaru helped to develop local talent and retain graduates in South Canterbury.
“SCDHB and Ara are aware that if we ‘grow our own’ – meaning local people becoming nurses, most will stay local.
“This means that the community benefits from receiving services from nurses who know our community and are aware of our unique South Canterbury health priorities.”
The graduating students have received job offers conditional on passing the Nursing Council of New Zealand State final examinations.