Now, more than ever, nurses need to be constantly refreshing and adding to their skills to stay ahead in their careers, Whitireia Community Polytechnic’s Dean of Health, Education and Social Sciences, Dr Margaret Southwick, told an audience of around 700 at the Polytechnic’s nursing graduation last week (April 15).
Dr Southwick warned that this was a time of “credential creep – you need more and more credentials to stay ahead in your work.”
She said she expected that would mean she would see many of the day’s graduates returning to Whitireia in future years.
Two hundred and fifty five of the 289 who gained new nursing qualifications last Friday were postgraduate students.
All the postgraduate certificates are the equivalent of two Masters papers and all are offered as distance learning packages. In the case of the Postgraduate Certificate in Forensic Psychiatric Care, all study is completed online, the only forensic qualification in New Zealand delivered this way.
Three of the postgraduate programmes are delivered in partnership with other health service providers: the Postgraduate Certificate in Hospice Palliative care is run jointly with Hospice New Zealand; the Postgraduate Certificate in Primary Health Care Specialty Nursing in association with Plunket; and the Postgraduate Certificate in Perioperative Specialty Nursing is run in conjunction with the private training enterprise, Medra.
Kathy Holloway, Programme Leader of the Nursing Postgraduate Studies, says Whitireia is very committed to its industry partnerships – it now has six partners in total.
She says those partnerships mean Whitireia courses have strong links with clinical practice, and give the courses the double strength of combining the polytechnic’s skills, knowledge and expertise with those of its partners.
Succeeding in gaining a postgraduate qualification is a wonderful achievement, she added. “It is incredibly difficult and a real challenge for these students, who are predominantly women, who are of mature age – mostly in their 30s and 40s, which is a time in their lives when they have a whole range of other commitments with family and work.”
The level of commitment required to study at this level was spelled out by friends and family at Friday’s graduation ceremony. After the formal ceremony concluded, they were given a chance to stand up and speak about the difficulties some students had encountered.
This forum was also a chance to celebrate and express the pride they felt – friends and relatives, young and old, spoke, sang and even read specially-written poems for what was an emotional end to this year’s Whitireia nursing graduation.