More Māori can aim for careers in primary care thanks to new qualification

New Zealand is well positioned to see more Māori enter the primary
health care workforce thanks to a new tertiary qualification
developed collaboratively by Wintec and PHO Pinnacle Midlands
Health Network.
The first lot of six students, all of whom are current community
health workers from Waikato, Rotorua, and Hauraki-based Māori
health providers, recently finished the New Zealand Certificate in
Health and Wellbeing Primary Care Practice Assistance 4 (Te Mahi
Āwhina Tuatahi 4).
Pinnacle Midlands Health Māori Health Manager Rawiri Blundell
says the one-year course is designed for Māori already working in the health environment who are specifically interested in developing a career in a primary care practice.
“We developed Te Mahi Āwhina Tuatahi 4 together with Wintec in
response to the very small number of Māori currently working in
general practice.
“Research indicates that by 2036, the number of Māori among those
aged 65-plus will go from 44,000 to a population of 121,000, an
increase of 115 percent. Changes need to be made to the health
workforce and health services in order to meet this demand.
“Essentially, we wanted to build a tertiary qualification to encourage a better representation of Māori with a career in primary care. We are confident that having more Māori in the workforce will help to achieve more equitable health care for Māori.”
Team manager at Wintec’s Postgraduate Centre for Health and
Social Practice, Helen Nielsen, says throughout the course all six
students gained practical experience working in healthcare teams
under the direction and delegation of a registered health
professionals and pactice managers.
“Course participants assist general practitioners, registered nurses, and management in the day to day operation of primary care
practice including routine clinical tasks and procedures.”
She says successful completion of the qualification can enable course participants to progress on to higher levels of tertiary education.
“Options in health and wellbeing include New Zealand Certificate in
Public Health and Health Promotion (Level 5), enrolled nursing
studies or bachelor’s degrees in health and wellbeing areas, including nursing or allied health disciplines.”
Mr Blundell says Pinnacle Midlands Health Network and Wintec
worked to resolve some of the financial barriers that Māori
experience when entering tertiary education.
“We sought funding for students through Waikato DHB Te Puna
Oranga Māori health funding streams. Their support of this
programme enabled the course to be subsidised for students, a
benefit that will also apply to all those who are successful in applying for the programme in the near future.”
Enrolments are now open for the next Te Mahi Āwhina Tuatahi 4
course, which opens in February 2018. Applicants must have been
working (paid or voluntarily) for at least 12.5 hours a week in a
primary care practice setting such as general practice, Primary
Health Care Organisation, Māori or Pasifika health trusts, by the
start of the programme in February 2018.
Pinnacle Midlands Health Network and Wintec are working to
replicate this course across the Midland region which covers the
central North Island with 24 percent of the population of 853,725
people identifying as Māori, a much higher proportion than the
national population.