Education supplement – tertiary opportunities

June 1, 2021

There are plenty of excellent nursing study choices in Aotearoa – both for new students and postgraduate options for those looking to advance their studies.


Whitireia nurse overcomes challenges to return to study and graduate

Shawnee Watson-Darbyshire
Shawnee Watson-Darbyshire

Shawnee Watson-Darbyshire, 28 years, always wanted to be a nurse, but when she left college in 2010 she felt like her dream was out of reach.


After withdrawing from study in 2011, nine years later Shawnee decided to give it another go and show her seven year old son that it was possible to achieve your dreams. She enrolled in the Diploma in Enrolled Nursing programme at Whitireia and is only weeks from graduating as an enrolled nurse.


“My turning point was my son telling me he wanted to work at the supermarket like Mum,” Shawnee says. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I want to encourage him to dream bigger and show him that he’s capable of anything.

“It was daunting going back to study but the support Whitireia provided has helped me get through it.”

The Diploma in Enrolled Nursing is an 18 month course that prepares students to become an enrolled nurse, through a combination of theory and practical, hands-on experience.


Juggling study and raising her son has been a challenge for Shawnee, but she credits support from her family, her employer and Whitireia tutors for making it possible.

Shawnee has noticed a positive change this time around with her studies, both with herself and with the course. “When I first enrolled I wasn’t prepared and couldn’t keep up,” she says. “Now I’m not afraid to ask for help. The tutors are amazing, they provide lots of resources and student support and help you learn the way you like to learn.

“I don’t learn from a book, it’s the lab classes, and hands on learning that works for me.”

“The Diploma in Enrolled Nursing caters for students like Shawnee, who haven’t necessarily had the best experience at school, but absolutely have the ability to apply the knowledge through hard work and study,” Denny McLeod, Enrolled Nursing tutor says.

“Whitireia is a polytech with a heart – we strive to support the students to be the best they can be, and with hard work they prove time and time again, they can have this career that will not only change their lives, but those of their patients.”

Shawnee has been able to translate her practical learning into real-life experience through placements at Huntleigh Rest Home, Kenepuru Hospital and currently Hutt Hospital.

“I have loved my experiences on placement, they have been difficult, but rewarding,” Shawnee says. “I want to work with elderly after being in the rest home. Hearing their life experiences is so interesting and I think we can learn a lot from them. They deserve to be looked after.”

Being on placement in the rest home during Level 3 lockdown was also a learning experience for Shawnee.

Residents’ families were unable to visit their loved ones due to the restrictions and Shawnee would provide a comforting presence by taking the time to sit and talk with them.
Shawnee is currently interviewing for jobs in nursing and is excited about putting her skills into action and working in the career she loves. She has a preference for working with elderly after the rewarding experiences she had on placement in Huntleigh Rest Home.

“Sometimes I question whether I have enough knowledge, but then when I’m out there I know I’ve got it and I’m ready,” Shawnee says.

Whitireia offers a wide range of nurse programmes from diploma to post-graduate level.

Whitireia - Join our frontline nursing heroes

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NZNO Young Nurse of the Year 2021

Nominations now open!

New Zealand Nurses OrganisationPurpose of award:

  • To recognise and celebrate the often exemplary work of nurses in the younger age group who may still be in the early stages of their careers
  • To encourage younger nurses to demonstrate their commitment to the nursing profession
  • To provide an incentive for them to remain nursing in New Zealand.

Nomination criteria:

The public, colleagues or managers may nominate a young nurse for this award. Nominators are requested to specify how the nurse they are nominating demonstrates commitment and passion to nursing beyond the every day. This may include how the nurse:

  • Shows compassion or courage beyond what is expected in their role as a nurse;
  • Has improved care or health outcomes for their patients through their commitment to care, leadership, research or quality;
  • Has overcome major challenges to deliver exceptional care.

Nominees may be registered or enrolled nurses, may be new graduates, do not have to be in paid nursing work, must be under the age of 31 as at December 31st 2021, be resident in New Zealand, and a current financial member of NZNO.

Judges will be looking for strong, detailed applications that clearly evidence the strengths and achievements of the nominee. In addition to giving evidence of how the nominee meets the nomination criteria listed above, further aspects that the judges will be considering are as follows:

  • Is there a particular project that the nurse has been involved in or is it a general, all round nomination?
  • In what way are any outcomes demonstrable e.g. has the nurse been accepted onto a programme by merit or have patient outcomes demonstrably improved?
  • Has the nominee contributed in a special way to a community or culture that stands out?

The winner will receive a trophy and a cash prize (of which 50% must go toward further education / professional development). Up to two runners-up will receive a runner-up certificate and a book voucher to the value of $200. All nominees will receive a certificate recognising their nomination.

This is an exciting opportunity for young nurses in New Zealand and we encourage you to submit a nomination in recognition of the work of young nurses throughout the country.

Closing date for nominations: 5.00pm, June 30, 2021

Nominations to be sent to: Heather Sander [email protected]

For Nomination Form and further information/criteria go to the NZNO website – Conference and AGM – Awards

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Changing Minds Conference

Building Compassionate Communities

Raelee Jensen, Clinical Nurse Specialist and Education Coordinator at Te Omanga Hospice in Lower Hutt
Raelee Jensen, Clinical Nurse Specialist and Education Coordinator at Te Omanga Hospice in Lower Hutt

“Dying, like birth, is a human event that everyone will go through. It is a normal part of life, and we all have a role to play in caring for others,” says Raelee Jensen, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Education Coordinator and passionate advocate of compassionate communities.

Raelee has spent 28 years working in the field of palliative care. Her role at Te Omanga Hospice in Lower Hutt involves supporting health professionals to increase knowledge and innovation in education. She also works with patients living with terminal or life limiting illnesses, and their families as carers, to empower them with increased knowledge and resilience. She acknowledges the learning health professionals gain from patients and their carers is invaluable.

A firm believer in the work of Professor Allan Kellehear, Raelee considers death to be a social event with a medical component, not a medical event with a social component. “Dying doesn’t just belong in a hospice or a hospital; people can die comfortably at home or in Residential Care Facilities with the right support.”

Raelee challenges us to look at how communities support people at the end of life. “In reality doctors and nurses are involved in a very small percentage of people’s care at the end of life. What happens the rest of the time and how as a community can we support people to live well until they die?”

Te Omanga’s Changing Minds Conference will challenge you to think about dying, grief and end-of-life care in a different way. It will inspire greater collaboration and connections within our community.

Raelee encourages anyone with an interest in palliative care or compassionate communities to attend the conference. “Caring for people at the end of life and in grief is everyone’s business and we can all play a role in coming together to support each other.”

Changing Minds Conference – 29 October 2021
Lower Hutt Events Centre, Wellington

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” Coretta Scott King.

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NERF Scholarships

NERF logoThe Nursing Education and Research Foundation (NERF) has the following scholarships available:

  • Dr. Jane Nugent Pharmacology Scholarship (Healthy Possibilities Fund)
  • Short Course/Conference Attendance Grant
  • Undergraduate Study Scholarship
  • Postgraduate Study Grant
  • Innovation Fund
  • Travel Grant
  • Wellington Nurses Education Trust Scholarship
  • Catherine Logan Memorial Fund


  • Must be a current financial member of NZNO
  • One NERF grant per year
  • Online scholarship and grant application forms specify criteria

Applications close on 30 June 2021 at 4.00pm

Apply online at the NZNO website – Scholarships and Grants

Questions should be directed to: [email protected]

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VUW - Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Research

Oceania University of Medicine