Various reviews of nursing education in New Zealand occurred during the 1960s - 1970s.
Concerns raised included the continued high attrition rates ('wastage') - student nurses failing to complete their studies.
Additionally, there was an uneven standard of educating nurses across New Zealand with schools of nursing in smaller centres having difficulty attracting suitable tutorial staff together with a relatively limited clinical experience available to students.
Some reviewers raised concerns about the standard of care being given by a large and as yet unqualified student workforce.
Hospital-based nursing education tended to be largely focussed on illness.
Other professional groups within hospitals had university-based education settings for their basic training (eg doctors), and groups such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists trained in technical institutes.
Dr Helen Carpenter, Director of the School of Nursing, University of Toronto was commissioned by the Government to report on the system of nursing education in New Zealand. Her report, released in February 1971, contained fourteen recommendations including:
1.6. That the Minister of Education be requested to appoint a committee to study the proposal for the development of colleges of health sciences for the preparation of nurses and other categories of personnel needed for the health services, and that this committee make recommendations to the Government concerning the most suitable education setting for the development of these colleges.
Such a committee was appointed in July 1971 with representatives from the Departments of Health and Education, the universities and technical institutes, the hospital boards, medicine and nursing and the National Council of Women.
In September 1972 the committee reported back to the Government and Cabinet approved 19 of the 21 recommendations relating to the transfer of responsibility for nursing education from the Health Department to the Education Department 'as soon as practicable'. Comprehensive programmes were to be established in technical institutes and the transfer was to take a minimum of ten to twelve years. In October 1972 the Cabinet approved the introduction of two pilot schemes in Wellington and Christchurch, each with a maximum intake of sixty students, to commence in 1973. The syllabus was required to cover a minimum of 3,000 hours during three academic years, half of which were to be clinical experience. Two more technical institute schools were added in 1976.
Meanwhile, most Hospital Boards were loathe to quickly hand over nursing education to the technical institutes. There was concern that there would be, for some time to come, a relative shortage of technical institute-trained nurses to replace the large hospital student nurse workforce. Additionally hospital-based student nurses were a relatively low-paid workforce, and costs would increase significantly once all hospital-based nurses were to become fully trained, although these costs would be offset to an extent by no longer having to fund hospital-based schools of nursing. And lastly, many of the larger Hospital Boards were in fact happy with the standard of nursing education that they had overseen for many years.
However, change was underway and before long universities expressed interest in providing the setting for basic (first-level) nursing education. Universities had for some time been providing post-basic nursing programmes.
As regards the School of Nursing at Wellington Hospital, the final intake of students for the three-year course occurred in 1982. That class graduated in 1985. The last class of Enrolled Nurses graduated in 1992, and the School of Nursing at Wellington Hospital closed.
[ the above is a very abbreviated account of a complex change in nursing education. ]