metropol » University of Otago Christchurch

Tag: University of Otago Christchurch

Nursing an ambition?: University of Otago

Every now and then, stars align to form something completely wonderful: macaroni meets cheese, Fred Astaire meets Ginger Rogers, and the University of Otago Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies meets diverse and talented people wishing to change their career to the rewarding profession of nursing.



Entering the Master of Nursing Science simply requires a B average from the last two years of study from any degree! There is a pre-science course available if needed. Applicants from the four intakes to date have included teachers, lawyers, IT specialists and journalists, as well as those with science and human science degrees.

“The course is a brilliant marriage between people wishing to join the nursing profession from varied backgrounds, and the world-wide nursing shortage which is only growing with aging populations,” Academic Lead for the Masters of Nursing Science, Virginia Jones says.

Classroom learning, including the high-tech ‘Simulation Centre’, is handily located in Oxford Street, close to Christchurch Hospital. Students attend two days per week and undertake independent study on the other days. Clinical experience is undertaken in blocks, usually of five weeks, in Christchurch and all over the South Island.


“We refer to it as ‘grow your own,’” Virginia says. “Students can complete clinical placements where they live, perhaps in districts around the South Island and commute to Christchurch for the class days.”

The course generates great peer support and learning – varied backgrounds and maturity of students mean the courses are rich in interdisciplinary learning. “I love their diversity and they are an asset to the profession because of the life experience they bring,” Virginia says.

The intensive programme takes just two years and is completed by sitting the ‘State Final’ exam. All graduates have passed and gained rewarding jobs in diverse clinical settings across New Zealand, and are also eligible to work in Australia. For new science graduates, the Masters of Nursing Science turns a degree into a profession, with great job opportunities and pathways within the profession.


Employers find Masters graduates have great critical thinking and reasoning skills, combined with maturity. The first course of its kind in New Zealand, it remains the only one in the South Island and, with a sky-high reputation, the Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies is ranked in the top 100 globally.

Anyone who wanted to nurse but was dissuaded can fulfil a dream, and those who stepped out of their role to raise a family and want to re-enter a professional role will find the Masters in Nursing is a door wide open. Graduate Roy Britten was a software engineer, but wanted more contact with people. Retraining via the Master of Nursing Science in his mid-forties, he found the course offered an exceptionally high level of support. Qualifying in two rather than three years meant he was without an income for a shorter period of time. “That’s a big deal when you’ve got a family.”

Attaining this degree will open other career opportunities in clinical nursing, nursing leadership, Nurse Practitioner roles, nursing education and research. Enrolments for 2020 are now open, visit




Christchurch’s health university: University of Otago, Christchurch

Hidden in plain sight, the University of Otago, Christchurch has been punching above its weight in world-class medical training and health research for a surprising 45 years.



Based in an 8-storey main building on the Christchurch Hospital site, the campus hosts 1000 students either in years 3 to 5 of their medical training or postgraduate students studying up to PhD level, and internationally renowned research project teams which include students, scientists and hospital physicians.

Deputy Dean and Research Professor Vicky Cameron says it is a popular choice for the 330 trainee doctors because of the hospital right next door. However, lesser known are the 700 postgraduate students from varied backgrounds. An astonishing 60 postgraduate programmes are available to PhD level, plus professional programmes. The graduate entry Nursing Masters course is popular: it enables students with any undergraduate degree to obtain their nursing qualifications in just two years!

The PhD in bioengineering is also sought-after. Students have the opportunity to be involved in researching tissue regeneration using 3D printing. Other world-renowned research teams are establishing new blood markers for heart disease, examining cancer genetics, and investigating the genetics of drug response.



Many students bring a BSc or BSc Hons in health sciences, biology, biochemistry or genetics, but no areas of expertise are excluded – “We have graduate students from a really broad base, not just the lab sciences,” Vicky says. “Our Psychological Medicine Department trains and researches in mental health, and those students come with degrees in Psychology.”

The campus’ reputation draws students. “They read international journals and discover the research has been done right here, we have a reputation as a centre of excellence,” Vicky says. Small and collegial, the environment is non-hierarchal with supervisors working alongside students. Experience intensive, the students work hand in glove with the hospital next door and many staff are employed in both the hospital and on campus.



Internationally respected names lead research teams: the Dean – David Murdoch – is an expert in the field of Infectious Diseases, Christine Winterbourne in free radical biology (oxidative stress), Mark Richards in heart disease risk assessment through blood testing, and Martin Kennedy in the genetics of adverse drug response. The Christchurch Health and Development Study has tracked 1200 people from babyhood to now 40 years, leading to key legislative change including the fencing of swimming pools and removing lead from paints and petrol.

Some of the past graduates have become high flyers overseas, such as Dr Robert Peach PhD, who became a successful biotech entrepreneur, the co-founder of a company that was bought out for US$7.5 billion. Vicky gained her PhD here, and her research centres on the genetics of heart disease. “I know I am going to make at least a small difference in answering some of the difficult questions within the system,” she modestly says.

For most of the postgraduate courses there are no fixed enrolments but check the website, and scholarships are available from the University of Otago.