On a path to addressing health inequities thanks to health scholarship

Saya Karauna is on a mission to improve health outcomes, particularly for Māori. She is studying for a Bachelor of Health at the University of Waikato, majoring in Population Health. Last year Saya successfully applied for a Braemar Charitable Trust Scholarship, awarded to students who are studying either Health or Nursing at the University of Waikato and are planning to stay in the region after graduation.

While Saya welcomed the money the scholarship brings, it also allowed her to do a month’s paid research in the community, getting out and interviewing a raft of health professionals including surgeons, assorted community health providers, GPs, practice managers and importantly, patients.

Her research will influence how Braemar Charitable Trust refines and delivers its community surgery programme to be even more effective. The Trust is the full owner of Braemar Hospital and runs a variety of charitable activities including free surgeries.

The surgery programme is aimed at people who have been declined or are facing considerable wait times for surgery in the public system, and who do not have health insurance, ACC nor the financial means to pay for private treatment. Many surgeons and anaesthetists who are credentialed to work at Braemar donate their time, free. Braemar Hospital provides consumable items and cost and the Trust covers other costs such as surgical items, consumables, drugs and nursing staffing.  

Saya is of Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Kahungunu iwi and she spent two weeks of her placement with Raukura Hauora o Tainui which provides primary and community health care services for people in the Tainui rohe.

“My research gave me a good understanding of all aspects, levels and stages in the health process. It reinforced a lot of things I’d been studying,” Saya says.

The Bachelor Health is a broad degree underpinned by the concept of hauora in practice and covers biomedical sciences, social policy, health communication and community approaches, inequities, history and the impacts of colonisation, and Māori, Pacific and Indigenous perspectives and practice, data and statistics.

The scholarship placement with Braemar Charitable Trust stimulated Saya’s interest in research. “It gave me a good oversight into what research can look like and the value of it.” And it reinforced her desire to work in community health, with an emphasis on Māori health, but first, she feels she needs to become more fluent in te reo Māori.

To that end, once she’s completed her Bachelor of Health, she intends to enrol in Te Tohu Paetahi, a year-long total immersion Māori language programme at the University of Waikato.

Meanwhile Saya is grateful for the scholarship and full of praise for the Braemar community surgery programme delivered by the Trust and Braemar Hospital.

“I didn’t know much about it before, but now I can see it’s huge and what’s needed. It’s bridging an important gap. It’s filling an unmet surgical need in the Waikato region and addressing inequities in the sector.”

In 2023, Braemar Charitable Trust had four scholarship winners and three of those University of Waikato students were able to take up paid internships with the Trust and the hospital, including Saya.

Two other scholarship winners were nursing students and speak highly of their time at Braemar Hospital in their paid placement.

Katrina Hovind-Marx says the support she received from the entire staff at Braemar Hospital was exceptional while she was on her nursing placement. “Additionally, my two weeks spent with a community provider offered a unique perspective on healthcare. Their focus on supporting individuals across all age groups allowed me to see various gaps within New Zealand's healthcare system. This experience has profoundly influenced my approach to patient care, inspiring me to seek innovative ways to support my future patients.”

Fellow nursing student Rachel Harrison spent time in theatre on her Braemar Hospital placement. “Despite the intensity of the environment that I was a part of, namely theatre, I was pleasantly surprised at how the staff always made time to teach me and involve me in what they were doing. My experience at Braemar broadened my understanding of what standards of healthcare are achievable.”

She says being involved with the Braemar Charitable Trust and seeing the standard of healthcare delivered by Braemar Hospital was a privilege. “The invaluable experience I gained during my time on placement with them has forever changed my thinking and approach to nursing.”

Braemar Charitable Trust funds two $10,000 Bachelor of Nursing scholarships and one Bachelor of Health scholarship at the University of Waikato each year with the overarching aim of supporting students who are from groups under-represented in health and who live in the Waikato region.


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