This month, over 5000 rural school pupils will learn about rural health careers through the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network’s rural school tours.
Groups of tertiary health students will visit 50 high schools throughout the Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti and Hawkes Bay, Manawatū and Ruapehu, Central Otago, and Canterbury to inspire pupils to pursue careers in health.
At each school, the students will host interactive health career workshops to teach pupils about different health disciplines including medicine, nursing, dentistry, midwifery, and allied health, among others.
During the workshops, year nine and ten pupils will have the opportunity to get hands-on with medical equipment like stethoscopes and dental equipment and learn how to perform CPR and take blood pressure.
The tertiary students will also give advice and share their own training experiences to showcase health as a positive and viable career pathway for rural young people.
The rural school tours are an important part of the Rural Health Careers Promotion Programme, led by the Network in partnership with Students of Rural Health Aotearoa (SoRHA) and funded by the Ministry of Health, which aims to encourage young people to study health careers at a tertiary level.
The Rural Health Careers Promotion Programme is an important part of the Network’s efforts to reverse the current rural health workforce crisis in New Zealand.
Targeting rural students is key as research shows rural young people are more likely to choose to work in a rural location when they are qualified.
The school visits also target rural areas where there are higher populations of Māori students to encourage them into rural health careers to help build a strong future rural Māori health workforce and to help reduce the inequities in Māori health outcomes.
After the rural health career sessions, pupils will be equipped with the knowledge and advice they need to make informed decisions about future careers in health.
When not visiting schools, the tertiary students will visit local health providers, iwi, and meet with health professionals to learn about rural community health.
Presenting current health students with positive rural experiences and giving them the opportunity to foster connections within rural communities will encourage them to enter rural health jobs themselves when they graduate.