Ed­u­ca­tor is here to learn

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Whi­tireia’s nurs­ing pro­gramme has brought a re­searcher half­way around the world to study it.

Bri­tish-born nurse ed­u­ca­tor Hazell Penn, who teaches at Camo­sun Col­lege in Vic­to­ria, Canada, spent Fe­bru­ary and March at Whi­tireia im­mers­ing her­self in the Bach­e­lor of Nurs­ing Maori and Pa­cific streams.

No other nurs­ing pro­gramme in the world has three streams run­ning along­side each other ca­ter­ing for dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ties, but re­sult­ing in the same de­gree.

The pro­gramme has much to teach univer­si­ties like Camo­sun, where 7 per cent of the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion is in­dige­nous First Na­tions Cana­dian, Ms Penn says.

Ten places are re­served for First Na­tions stu­dents on Camo­sun’s nurs­ing course ev­ery year, but it’s not un­usual for seven of those to drop out by the fourth and fi­nal year of the de­gree.

‘‘They weren’t pre­pared or sup­ported enough to stay in the pro­gramme and they left. It kept hap­pen­ing,’’ Ms Penn says.

‘‘There is no cel­e­bra­tion of cul­ture. It’s like ‘let go of your ideas and come join our course’.’’

Whi­tireia in­volves Maori and Pa­cific Is­land stu­dents’ fam­ily and com­mu­nity in their learn­ing, and in­cludes tikanga or cus­toms in ev­ery­day teach­ing.

Ms Penn had been hav­ing some success by sup­port­ing and coach­ing in­dige­nous stu­dents in Canada when she dis­cov­ered Whi­tireia’s ap­proach in an aca­demic ar­ti­cle by former dean Mar­garet South­wick.

‘‘It was a big moment to re­alise other peo­ple have a pro­gramme in place to really sup­port th­ese stu­dents,’’ Ms Penn says.

‘‘It’s been a ter­rific jour­ney for me, per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally.’’

Like Maori and Pa­cific Is­lan­ders here, First Na­tions peo­ple suf­fer dis­pro­por­tion­ately poor health in Canada, and like in New Zealand, the government is try­ing to get more in­dige­nous peo­ple into health pro­fes­sions.

Ms Penn can see parts of Whi­tireia’s model work­ing back in Canada, but there are hur­dles like lan­guages.

Ms Penn’s visit was a real boost to Whi­tireia stu­dents and staff, says Kathy Hol- loway, health fac­ulty dean.

‘‘It’s really use­ful to have that per­spec­tive be­cause when you’re in the mid­dle of do­ing it, it be­comes com­mon­place.’’

Learn­ing link: Cana­dian nurs­ing ed­u­ca­tor Hazell Penn, right, spent Fe­bru­ary and March at Whi­tireia re­search­ing the Maori and Pa­cific Is­land nurs­ing pro­gramme run by health dean Kathy Hol­loway.

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