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New scholarship paves way Indigenous nurses and midwives of the future

Published:  12 August 2019

The Townsville Hospital and Health Service is supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students passionate about nursing and midwifery to complete their studies with a new Indigenous Academic Merit Scholarship.

The scholarship, for James Cook University nursing and midwifery students, forms a combined approach between the health service and university to increase completion rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery students.

Townsville Hospital and Health Service assistant director of nursing and midwifery Meaghan Trovato said the scholarship offered successful full-time students $3,000 per semester to assist with costs related to their study.

“We know that finances can be one barrier to completing a degree, so the scholarship aims to alleviate a little bit of financial pressure,” she said.

“Further to this, students receive important one-on-one mentoring from an experienced Indigenous clinical nurse consultant both during and after their clinical placements.

“This financial support and mentorship assists students to overcome obstacles and challenges associated with achieving success in nursing and midwifery and set them up to graduate as registered nurses or midwives.”

Meaghan said the scholarship was also a strategy to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in the future workforce.

“It is important to have a workforce that reflects the diversity of our community,” she said.

“Eight per cent of the Townsville Hospital and Health Service patient population identifies as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander so this scholarship addresses that and is an important part of improving health services and outcomes for the region’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Fourth-year nursing and midwifery student and scholarship recipient 20-year-old Georgia Dennis-Smith said the scholarship had made a significant difference to her.

“I’ve spent a lot of time away from home on placement in places like Charters Towers and even New South Wales where I did a placement with the NSW air ambulance and this meant I spent a bit of my savings,” she said.

“There are other costs too associated with nursing such as textbooks, stethoscopes and good-quality shoes which are important for nurses who are on their feet in the wards all day.

“I was really excited and thankful to receive the scholarship and relieved to have the financial support.”

Georgia said the support from Indigenous clinical nurse consultant Norma Lane had also been invaluable.

“Going off on placement can be scary but her ongoing support throughout was much appreciated,”
she said.

“It’s nice having someone to check on you and to get feedback and have a point of contact for any questions or advice as well.”

James Cook University acting academic head nursing and midwifery Dr John Smithson said the Indigenous Academic Merit Scholarship was a fantastic opportunity provided by the Townsville HHS.

“The scholarship not only supports their study financially, but more importantly, connects them with nurse mentors from the health service,” he said.

“The recipients work with Indigenous and non-Indigenous nurses to develop their contextual and theoretical understanding of the role of the nurse in modern healthcare.

“We are very proud of our students and very grateful for the partnership with Townsville Hospital and Health Service.”

Contact Public Affairs 4433 1016

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