Alice Williams – Pegasus Health Māori Scholarship Recipient

It was while Alice Williams was working as a part-time support worker for Nurse Maude in the Tasman District that she had what she calls “the light bulb moment” that began her nursing studies.

Alice (Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Maru), was no stranger to university study at that point. Before she began her current double degree at Ara in Christchurch – a Bachelor of Nursing and a Master of Health Sciences Professional Practice – she had completed a degree in psychology and education at Victoria University in Wellington, graduating in 2013.

Now, as a recent recipient of the Pegasus Health Māori Workforce Development Scholarship, Alice is two years into her double nursing degree and she looks forward to becoming a registered nurse by the end of this year.

She also knows she’s now on the right path.

“I was inspired by two of my aunts who are nurses, and two of my close friends. I always wanted to help people in a practical caring job and when I saw what they did to help others, the idea of nursing hit me like a lightning bolt.”

Alice says winning the Pegasus scholarship has made an enormous difference to her life as an adult student.

“Doing a double degree means I need double the resources and the scholarship support means I’ve been able to buy my textbooks and keep them as ongoing reference, and I’ve been able to buy some more basic nursing equipment. The money has also helped with my fees, for which I am so grateful,” she says.

Alice says winning the scholarship has also opened windows of opportunity for her. She’s been able to meet some key Pegasus Health people involved in recruiting new nursing staff, which she sees as an invaluable step toward building vital networks.

“The scholarship presentation event also opened my eyes to the incredible level of support that Pegasus Health offers to Māori, Pasifika and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse students.

“There are so many people benefitting from the work they do and the ongoing support they offer through bilingual providers, interpreters and cultural competency training. The education opportunities they offer for health care providers and workers is awesome.”

Alice says she is yet to specialise in her own career path – “I’m sure my area of specialty will change as I broaden my skill set” – but she is very excited about an upcoming placement in a palliative care facility at a hospice.

“That’s definitely an area I want to learn a lot more about and although I’m keen to work in as many areas of nursing as possible to develop a diverse set of skills, I may well end up in palliative care long term,” she says.

“It’s such a special area of nursing and looking after our elders is key. That’s something I’m very passionate about. I also plan to embark on the Nurse Practitioner pathway of study in the future.”

Alice is also passionate about research and throughout her studies, she has undertaken a number of projects including research into the psychological effects of the Christchurch earthquakes on youth with Christchurch’s Collaborative Trust; the social determinants and factors contributing to why young Māori women smoke; and research on the Meihana model, which is based on the Māori health framework Te Whare Tapa Whā, a clinical history-taking model that supports health practitioners to gain a broader understanding of Māori patients’ presentations.

“I’m passionate about research and I hope to do further work in some of these areas. There is so much to learn and I’m keen to learn anything that can shed a light on Māori health.

“That’s something else that Pegasus Health does incredibly well – they’re keen to grow the number of Māori in the health sector and that makes total sense to me. The inequities in health outcomes between Māori and Pākehā are not acceptable and they’ve gone for far too long. More Māori working with Māori is the change we need.”

Read the full October newsletter.