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Nursing services in student health clinics in New Zealand tertiary education institutes

Ngā ratonga tapuhi i ngā whare haumanu ākonga i ngā whare wānanga taumata tuatoru o Aotearoa

Sheree Robertson, RN, PGDipHSc, MN, Occupational Health South Ltd, Invercargill, NZ
Shona Thompson, RN, PhD, Senior Lecturer, Eastern Institute of Technology, Hawke’s Bay, NZ

Reference:  Robertson, S., & Thompson, S. (2019). Nursing services in student health clinics in New Zealand tertiary education institutes. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 35(2), 7-17.


The role of the on-campus health nurse in New Zealand tertiary institutes has evolved in recent years, especially with increased numbers of international student enrolments. Universities and polytechnics are well placed to provide accessible health care services for tertiary students, but little is known about what services are provided. The aim of this research was to find out what nursing services are available to students in health clinics in New Zealand’s tertiary education institutes and how the clinics are structured. Nurses practicing in 16 of the possible 22 New Zealand tertiary education institutes with student health services were surveyed using the software tool SurveyMonkey©. Results revealed a workforce of older, experienced nurses who mostly identified as being team leaders or managers, who offered a wide range of student health services. The three services which required most nurses’ time related to sexual health, mental health and health education. For international students, mental health (including anxiety and stress) and loneliness/homesickness were the most common issues. Nurses’ responses to questions about changes frequently included the words “more” and “increased”, indicating the growing demand pressures on nurses working in tertiary student health clinics. Sexual and mental health were the most time-consuming issues dealt with by the nurses, with few differences reported between domestic and international students.