The ‘highlight of the year’, the Pegasus Health Workforce Development Scholarship ceremony was held at Tūranga (Christchurch Main Library) on Thursday 18 May. The scholarships were established by Pegasus Health in 2001 to support members of our priority communities in their journey to working in health care. Pegasus continued this commitment to creating an equitable health workforce to assist Aotearoa towards equitable health outcomes by awarding 28 scholarships in 2022.
In an emotional speech from keynote speaker, Suzanne Pitama, she acknowledged that achieving health equity was the responsibility of all the health workforce.
“There will be a lot of pressure on you when you graduate to meet our equity goals, but every single graduate is supposed to contribute to health equity, it does just not rest on your shoulders. So, I want to honour your dreams and aspirations for yourself. I want you to choose the field that most stimulates you, that makes you excited. Because the more you follow your own passions, the more we will retain you in our health workforce and that is really our overall goal,” says Suzanne.
Third year nursing student, Kirstyn Macdonald (Ngāti Kahungunu), knows first-hand the challenges Māori women experience.
“As a young Māori mother, I experienced discrimination from health care services and as a result I was afraid of judgment when attending the Well Child Checks which is crucial for monitoring your pēpi’s growth and development,” Kirstyn says.
“Unfortunately, I am not alone in experiencing discrimination from health care services. Discrimination is a contributing factor to why Māori have poorer health outcomes,” she says.
This has motivated Kirstyn to study nursing, so she can have an active role in improving health disparities in Māori health.
Akerita Alatimu (Samoa) is in her second and final year of a Master of Health Science. Akerita took time to acknowledge the professionals that have worked for equity in health. “I chose this course, not only because I wanted to see change in our communities, but I also wanted to be part of that change to better our health outcomes. I know that it is not going to be easy, but we are preceded by so many warriors in our individual fields that I know it is doable with a whole lot of grit,” she says.
Māori scholarship recipient, Iwitea Ataria Ivannokova, shared a whakatauki that embodies the journey her and the other recipients are on.
He manako te kōura i kore ai. Thinking about the crayfish will not make it so – to achieve your dreams, you must put the effort in.