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Assisting nurses to further their studies: NZNO members need to make better use of the wide range of scholarships and grants available to assist them with their studies and ongoing professional development.

As someone who has spent much of the last 24 years working in nursing education, I am well aware of the financial stress experienced by many students. Student debt affects a growing number of students--since 2004, the number of students with loans over $30,000 has grown by 17 percent. About 680,000 people have used the Student Loan Scheme since it was introduced in 1992. Some 14 percent of people over 15 years (or 445,074 people) had a student Loan in 2004/05, with an average balance of $14,997. (1)

These student debt figures, however, do not take into account other types of debt students incur, such as credit card debt, bank overdrafts and debt to friends and family members. In December 2005, legislation was passed making student loans for borrowers living in New Zealand interest free from April 1 2006. The interest-free policy applies to existing and new loan borrowers.

With the financial pressures facing students, it is important NZNO members know of the many scholarships available to them. The Nursing Education and Research Foundation (NERF) had its origins in 1966, following a bequest given by nurses in tribute to former Department of Health, Division of Nursing director, Flora Cameron. Cameron has been described as one of our great nursing leaders and is remembered for her foresight and determined efforts to elevate the standard of nursing education in order to bring "quality" nursing services to patients. (2)

Following her death, NZNA launched a nationwide fundraising campaign to raise further capital to acid to the bequest. NERF was set up as an autonomous body in 1968, administered by a board of trustees. Money was to be made available to nurse members to enable them to "do nursing research work and acquire specialised knowledge and/or wider or higher qualifications in connection with their profession of nursing, and to take such other steps and do such other things as may be considered advisable or beneficial to those ends or purposes". (3)

Most of the scholarships and grants now available through NERF fund study contributing towards the attainment of higher qualifications; short courses/conferences or travel; research project grants; and conference organisers/speakers. However, there has been a dearth of applicants in recent years for some of the grants. Members need to be aware of what money is available to help them with their professional growth. The next round of grants and scholarships closes on October 31.

The Gretta and Harry Hamblin Trust was established in 1988 by Norah Hamblin in memory of her parents. Hamblin began nursing in 1934, working in various parts of New Zealand and overseas. She worked with the New Zealand Army in Japan in 1947 and as a midwife in India. She retired in 1971 after seven years as matron of Auckland's Wakefield Hospital Hamblin requested that preference would be given to those who had not received other grants and to "clinical ability rather than scholastic". Her desire was to help nurses with strong clinical and practical skills.

Remembering Margaret May Blackwell

The Margaret May Blackwell Travel Study Fellowship for nurses of young children is a unique and interesting grant. Blackwell was a Karitane nurse, a Gift Guides' district commissioner, a student of early childhood education, an escort for refugee children in the Spanish Civil War, a student of early childhood at Toronto and Columbia Universities, a child psychologist at Auckland Hospital, and a participant in Lifeline and the Inter-Church Counselling Centre.

The fellowship (around $13,000) is awarded annually to enable nurses working in early childhood health to study overseas to gain further experience and to then disseminate that information for the benefit of early childhood health in New Zealand. A different theme is chosen for each year, with the theme for 2007/2008 being "Dealing with the complexities of nutrition: nursing strategies towards building a healthy future for 0-5-year-old children". Applications close on March 31 2007. The 1999 recipient Debbie Rickard wrote in her report: "Partnership between families and the nurse is the essential foundation for delivering optimal care to the child. The Margaret May Blackwell Travel Study Fellowship for Nurses of Young children has provided an invaluable opportunity to explore this relationship further." Rickard travelled to England, Scotland and Brisbane for study around chronically ill children.

NZNO-administered funds

Some funds are not administered by NERF. The Florence Nightingale Memorial Fund had its beginnings in 1934, managed by equal NZNA and Red Cross Society members. In 1950, it had a yearly levy of one shilling per member. This increased to 30 cents a member in 1980, then to $1 per member in 1983 "provided that the fund, or a proportion of it, was open to basic comprehensive students suffering hardship". The amount of funding available is based on NZNO membership figures. Around $500 per applicant (open to nursing or midwifery students or nurses, midwives and enrolled nurses seeking further qualifications) is available, with a closing date of March 31 each year. The fund has been administered by NZNA/NZNO's Nursing and Midwifery Advisory Committee since 1983. The committee derides the actual percentage allocation of the funds and distributes them.

The Kathleen Hall Centennial Memorial Scholarship is a joint initiative between the New Zealand China Friendship Society and NZNO. It is available to nurses wanting to undertake community nursing studies.

It is always heartening to receive letters of thanks from recipients of funds--benefits range from buying a textbook with no strings attached, to having life-changing events occur as a result of receiving an award. Each book purchased, fees paid or travel undertaken serve as reminders of the generosity of past benefactors. Watch out for advertisements in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand and on the NZNO website for scholarship availability and their respective closing dates. Further inquiries can be made to administrator Betty Ng on bettyn@nzno.org.nz or to me on anneb@nzno.org.nz.

References

(1) Inland Revenue (2005) Student Loan Scheme--Annual report 2005. Wellington: Author.

(2) Orbell, A. (1996) Flora Jean Cameron--A Tribute. The New Zealand Nursing Journal; 59: 2.

(3) Nursing Education and Research Foundation Trust Deed. 1968, Wellington: NZNA.
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Title Annotation:SCHOLARSHIPS
Author:Brinkman, Anne
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Words:1021
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