|Not a member? Sign up now!|
A group of 17 students pursuing careers in primary health care were recently awarded scholarships as part of an ongoing programme to encourage more health providers to practice in rural Waikato.
In return for the funding received from the Waikato Primary Health Rural Scholarship, students commit to a 12 month period of work in a rural Waikato community Ã½Ã½" from Coromandel to Taumarunui Ã½Ã½" following completion of their studies.
The annual Waikato Primary Health Rural Scholarship has been offered by Waikato Primary Health for four years, with a total of 66 award recipients since the programme started in 2005.
Murray Loewenthal Board Chairperson and Chairperson of the Rural Advisory Group says close to $600,000 worth of scholarships have been awarded to date.
"Without enough health workers in rural areas, communities will reach a crisis point. We view these scholarships as essential investments toward helping to keep our smaller communities health systems afloat," says Loewenthal.
He says this year's candidates were outstanding individuals and local communities will be fortunate to have them.
The winners will receive official recognition of these awards at the Rural GP Symposium held in Matamata on Saturday 2 August 2008. This year's awards will be presented in honour of the late Dr Vince Murphy, a Morrinsville GP. Dr Murphy was also known for his ability to go above and beyond the call of duty for the local community Ã½Ã½" he was a long term outreach doctor which included regular marae visits. In addition, Dr Murphy was significantly involved with restructuring the primary health care industry in the Waikato region. The event will be attended by local doctors and nurses from the rural Waikato region.
One of the scholarship winners submitted an application last year which was unsuccessful, before winning this year. Paramedic Team Leader Brody MacBeth has been working at the Morrinsville Ambulance Station for four years.
"I was stoked to receive the scholarship Ã½Ã½" I just about did cartwheels! I began studying some time ago but in the meantime suffered from a back injury which required a couple of operations, and since then I've become a Dad. These things changed my life dramatically, both physically and financially. Study was put on hold but now I'm studying again and I'll finally graduate in November 2009. Receiving this scholarship has been extraordinary for me," says MacBeth.
Each scholarship is worth up to $10,000. Anyone studying primary health care is eligible to apply for the annual scholarship.
This year's winners of the Waikato Primary Health Rural Scholarships (including specialist areas and community locations) are:
Abby Hodgson Oral health North Waikato
André McLachlan Mental health North Waikato
Naera Kanene Nursing Thames/Coromandel
Charmaine Knight Paramedic Thames/Coromandel
Angela Van Eyk Pharmacy Thames/Coromandel
Melissa Reid Physiotherapy Thames/Coromandel
Ann Ward Midwifery Thames/Coromandel
Hannah Cullen Nursing Thames/Coromandel
Cheryl Anderson Medicine King Country
Jessica Nuttall Nursing Taumarunui
Brent (Brody) MacBeth, Paramedic Central Waikato
Shelley Steele Nursing Matamata
Debbie Barham Medicine Matamata
Linda Mullholland Nursing Matamata
Jenny Hewett Midwifery South Waikato
Dean Gauthern Mental health Any location
While many past award recipients are still studying, or have just finished their study and about to start their 12 month contract obligations, early analysis indicate health workers are staying in rural areas.
Since receiving the scholarship in 2006, one health worker has opened up her own physiotherapy business in Ngarawhahia.
Ripeka Connew of Lifestyle Physiotherapy says she chose to open up a rural business largely due to her positive experience in a rural community during her 12 month contract.
"I love the community atmosphere here and have been able to get to know my clients quite well. As a result, I go the extra mile for them and try to meet their needs as best as I can," says Connew.