Being granted a $2000 undergraduate study scholarship by the NZNO Nursing Education and Research Foundation (NERF) gave me a great source of joy and sense of achievement at a challenging time in my life.
It allowed me to reach out to my desired primary health care placement – Evolve Youth Service, in Wellington. It helped fund my travel from Palmerston North and accommodation expenses for the three weeks I spent at Evolve.
Evolve is a youth one-stop shop (YOSS) with a number of clients who are a gender or sexual minority.
My current part-time work already revolves around supporting rainbow young people as a peer support worker and by providing pastoral support in schools. However, this placement gave me an amazing insight into the positive impact that nursing care can make in the lives of these rangatahi.
‘Nurses who respect and affirm their rainbow clients already make such a big difference to the accessibility of health care, as I know from personal experience.’
During this placement I was able to talk with rainbow people about their sexual health and their gender-affirming care. The transgender people that I worked with were more than happy for me to deliver their intra-muscular hormone injections.
I was also able to write a letter for a transgender young person explaining what their options would be, should they move to Australia (something they were considering). Evolve allowed me several hours to research and write this letter.
I was also able to help Evolve restart their chest binder exchange programme and deliver a professional development session about gender-affirming compression garments (chest binders and tucking gaffs) to the YOSS nurses. Overall, this placement was incredibly positive and encouraging for me in my future career.
The scholarship has been invaluable in supporting my continuing study and given me a reprieve from the financial stress of finishing my course.
Course fees are about $8000 per year and I had only saved $7000 from my 20 hours per week of part-time work. The scholarship meant I had enough funds to pay for my course fees this year without needing to take out a loan — a significant source of stress for me last year.
‘These experiences have impacted me emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially in a hugely positive way.’
Over the past few months I have looked beyond the horizon of graduation to see the work that I could be doing as a nurse and as an NZNO member. I attended the NZNO regional council meeting at the end of July and I have already begun my involvement with gender-affirming care in Manawatū.
I attended regional primary health organisation Think Hauora’s gender-affirming service planning day and met many of the nurses, doctors and other stakeholders already working in this space.
Nurses who respect and affirm their rainbow clients already make such a big difference to the accessibility of health care, as I know from personal experience and through the stories of my friends receiving health care. As someone who is part of that community, I have the opportunity to reduce those barriers even further.
These experiences have impacted me emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially in a hugely positive way.
A challenging year
Challenges this year have included the loss of my grandad, a close friend receiving a cancer diagnosis, and another sustaining a head injury resulting in chronic pain. While my grandad was in the last weeks of life, some interviews about the scholarship was published on news sites such as the New Zealand Herald.
‘It has given me the confidence to know that I can be recognised for my efforts in my studies and the difference I can make as a registered nurse.’
My auntie told me that reading my grandad the news made him smile and I know that he felt proud of me. My grandad was an incredibly community-orientated person and throughout my nursing study he was very eager to hear about my achievements, both academically and in my community. Knowing that my grandad could celebrate this achievement with me before he passed has helped me a lot in the grieving process.
This scholarship also encouraged me to continue to work hard in my studies and in my community commitments. It has given me the confidence to know that I can be recognised for my efforts in my studies and the difference I can make as a registered nurse.
The Nursing Education and Research Foundation (NERF) offers nurses, midwives and students of nursing and midwifery a range of scholarships and grants. These grants are funded from various trusts including the Gretta and Harry Hamblin Trust and the McCutchan Trust. NZNO also administers a range of other local and national scholarships and grants.