New qualification pathway for laboratory staff celebrated at Ara-Te Pūkenga graduation

Diploma Grads December

Media release from Te Pūkenga.

Amid the demands of responding to COVID-19 in recent times, a new partnership in the education and healthcare sectors has also responded to the need for a study opportunity for the laboratory staff workforce.

Amongst this year’s Ara Institute of Canterbury – Te Pūkenga’s Spring Graduation, eighteen Awanui staff from all over Aotearoa gathered in Christchurch to celebrate graduating with their Level 5 Diploma of Applied Science.

Ara – Te Pūkenga and Awanui began collaborating in 2018 to co-design the new qualification to provide career pathways for the human pathology industry.

The programme is accredited by the Medical Sciences Council for registration purposes and evaluated by Ara Te Pūkenga and NZQA.

“Awanui wanted to offer their workforce, both existing staff and new recruits throughout New Zealand, an NZQA- and industry-recognised qualification,” says Melissa Barber, Ara’s Head of Department – Applied Sciences and Social Practice.

“They approached us, and after a careful analysis of the industry and people in work, we designed a new qualification pathway in partnership with them. This is partnership in action.” Barber says.

The Level 5 Diploma of Applied Science, an 18-month programme comprising eight courses, was first offered in 2020. Due to COVID-19 impacts, first recruits have only just had the opportunity to graduate in person.

“The Awanui network is proud to partner with Ara to provide this amazing learning opportunity,” Chief Executive Anoop Singh says.

“”The Level 5 Diploma is a great pathway for our staff to gain an NZQA recognised tertiary qualification while working, along with the knowledge and skills for a successful and rewarding laboratory-based career.””

Under the partnership, Awanui manages the work-integrated learning for the practical skills the frontline workers need, and the theory is delivered online by Awa Te Pūkenga to their employees across the country.

Barber says keeping students connected is a hallmark of the course. “”We create an environment where there is social learning happening even if students aren’t participating at the same time.

“There’s a strong tutor voice for each course, we use forums so the students can chat to each other, complete self-reflection evaluation and professional skills type learning as well as scientific theory.” she says.

Awanui Senior Phlebotomist and Diploma Graduate Braelee Christian says the course ticked all the boxes. “”I got amazing support from Ara and Awanui, and if you are committed to the course, then the support is there to help you succeed. Now I have my diploma there are exciting times ahead.”” Christian says.

Completing the study also provides an external pathway for technicians to become registered with the Medical Sciences Council.

So far more than 60 students have completed the course and another 90 are currently studying.

“We see this course going from strength to strength,” Barber says. “With this cohort of Awanui staff being able to celebrate their graduation we definitely see the partnership continuing and a great opportunity for those in the human pathology industry to study for a successful and rewarding career.” she says.

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