A Whakatane-based programme aimed at increasing the recruitment of rural health professionals has received recognition for its outstanding work.

The Rural Health Interprofessional Programme (RHIP) has been awarded the Best Clinical Placement Award for Undergraduate Nursing by Wintec for 2018. The award is generated by student comments regarding their clinical placements.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB) programme, launched at Whakatāne Hospital in 2013, aims to improve the recruitment and retention of doctors, nurses and other health professionals in rural New Zealand. It brings together undergraduate students from different health disciplines to learn and gain clinical experience in rural New Zealand.

The programme is coordinated by BOPDHB Clinical Campus Academic Coordinator Yvonne Boyes and Programme and Site Co-Ordinator Matt Sinton, and is heavily supported by BOPDHB Regional Māori Health Services.

“It has been a great privilege to be able to support nursing and other students in the Eastern Bay of Plenty communities; students who could well be employed in this and other rural areas in the near future,” said Yvonne.

“The RHIP programme is going from strength to strength, growing from three health disciplines in 2013 to 12 in 2019. The programme’s success has also been created by huge support from within our communities, supervisors and preceptors for students within primary and secondary health services.”

Some of the comments from the students who supported the award included:

• The RHIP programme has been an incredible experience in my journey as a student nurse. It has helped to shape my career as a nurse and aided in my development as a student nurse.

• RHIP constantly challenged my thought process. With rural health, with implementing tikanga, with understanding social determinants of health, with one size definitely does not fit all, with understanding the total wellbeing of a patient, with implementing more Māori health models, with ALWAYS looking at the big picture

• RHIP is the kind of placement that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Best experience ever and I would recommend it to everyone.

• Their support for the students both on a professional and personal level was second to none and they made themselves freely available when needed. Their warm and approachable demeanour made attending the programme a pleasure. They are clearly passionate about rural health and the health of Māori and this showed through in the nature of the programme and the clinical placements selected for us.