Funding sought for health careers plan

Outside funding of $40,000 is needed to support an ongoing Southern District Health Board programme designed to attract Southland secondary school pupils to health careers.

The Incubator Programme, which began with one Southland school in 2009 and was offered to a further four this year, has been supported by Southland charities in the past, while the board picked up the tab for the co-ordinator's position.

In a report to the board's hospitals' advisory committee, Southland's chief operating officer, Lexie O'Shea, said the programme, which has run in several areas throughout the country from 2007, was more than "just simply introducing careers" to the secondary pupils.

The programme includes the opportunity for year 13 pupils to have work experience in health services.

Health information was provided in an engaging and interesting manner in the classroom, which furthered interest in health careers as well as improving the "health literacy" of the pupils and their families.

A key to the success of the programme was the involvement of the health workforce sharing their knowledge and experience with students.

About 80 board employees were registered as mentors for the programme.

Many more board staff and others from community agencies had also shown support without formally registering.

Ms O'Shea said the programme was supporting the growth of the future health workforce from within the same communities that needed it.

It was expected that next year there would be 40 participating schools from up to eight district health board areas.

Ms O'Shea will ask the advisory committee to recommend to the full board that approval be given to submit funding applications for the programme with the Invercargill Licensing Trust, the ILT Foundation and the Community Trust of Southland for next year's programme.

All three have supported it in the past.

It was proposed the board would continue to fund the programme co-ordinator's position to up to almost $23,000.

Next year, it was hoped the board would continue to work with Aurora College, Menzies College, Verdon College and Southland Boys' High School.

Further consideration had yet to be given to offering it to extra schools.

elspeth.mclean@odt.co.nz

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