Southern touch to nurse programme

Monday 26 February 2024

The South’s first nurse prescriber programme is celebrating its two-year milestone with 50 graduates and no signs of slowing down.


Te Waipounamu Registered Nurse Prescribing in Community Health programme was developed and is delivered by WellSouth, the Southern primary health organisation (PHO) for Otago and Southland in collaboration with Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora – Nelson Marlborough.  The programme now collaborates with most of the Te Waipounamu PHOs and Te Whatu Ora districts and welcomes nurses from each corner of the South Island.


Produced and delivered by Nicky Burwood, Nurse Practitioner and WellSouth Clinical Education Lead for community nurse prescribing, it is the first programme created and delivered from the South Island for nurses across Te Waipounamu.


For many years there have been several Nursing Council of New Zealand-approved community nurse prescribing work-based learning programmes.


“Having a professional programme locally designed and delivered for our South Island nurses not only means we have local content, local examples to work with, but importantly it boosts the workforce in the South Island and helps connect our Te Waipounamu nursing sector,” says Ms Burwood.


She says this is important in a sector experiencing continued pressure to keep and maintain clinical staff, particularly in Southern where many practices are rural.


“Continued professional development like this is keeping our primary care and community-based nurses working at the top of their scope, which is good for them, and is great for patients,” she says.


The course is a six-month, online, fee-free programme that provides re-certification as a Designated Nurse Prescriber in Community Health through the Nursing Council of New Zealand.


Nurse prescribers in community health can prescribe from a limited number of common medicines for minor ailments and illnesses in normally healthy people.


“Having more community nurse prescribers means more choice for patients as to who they can see, reducing wait times and supporting stronger care relationships between nurses and their patients. Importantly, this also increases patient access to medications,” says Ms Burwood.


“I’m elated the programme has hit this milestone, and that interest is strong. We had 12 students on our third cohort for 2023 and a new cohort of 25 for the first intake in 2024.”


The first cohort commenced in February 2022. The January 2024 cohort will be the 7th programme, as there are three every year, with around 10-25 students on each. Nurses are already in practice and complete the course through online modules with facilitated webinars, group sessions, mentorship from a nurse practitioner or medical practitioner.


“I absolutely loved the course, and it has reignited my love of learning!” says Hilary Hayde, a Dunedin-based nurse (and pictured in the photo).


Rhona Roberts, a Canterbury-based nurse says, “Thank you so much for all the facilitation and oversight involved in this course. Your passion and commitment are just fabulous to getting me to continue to learn and be challenged. This has been a huge boost to my confidence and knowledge base, and it's been great to get the support and affirmation from my co-workers also.”




Caption: Two recent graduates of the Te Waipounamu Registered Nurse Prescribing in Community Health, Natasha McGregor (left) and Hilary Hayde (right) with Nicky Burwood, WellSouth Clinical Education Lead (centre) at Maori Hill Clinic in Dunedin.

More information

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