As part of delivering on the Workforce Plan 2023/24, Te Whatu Ora has expanded next year’s Voluntary Bonding Scheme and added two new categories to the scheme to encourage and retain recently qualified health professionals where we most need them.
The scheme now includes new and recent graduate anaesthetic technicians and new graduate pharmacists, an extension to include all new graduate midwives nationwide, and additional eligible communities for general practice trainees.
The aim of the scheme, which is offered every year, is to incentivise our health graduates to work in hard-to-staff communities or specialties, and to improve Māori and Pacific representation in key health professions.
Those accepted to the scheme can become eligible for payments in the first three to five years of their career, to help repay their student loan or as top-up income.
“We are aware of the staffing challenges faced by rural health providers, and through the scheme we can lend a helping hand to our rural practices that are traditionally harder to staff,” said John Snook, director of workforce planning and development at Te Whatu Ora.
“The scheme’s expansion targets those professions where growth is most needed, and by opening the door to include more rural communities, more people will have better access to health care.
“Expanding the scheme is one measure we’re taking as part of the Health Workforce Plan to address workforce shortage in areas and roles where need is greatest, and to boost our workforce overall. Scaling training initiatives to grow our future workforce – particularly in rural areas - is a key focus.
“The scheme has proven to be a popular pathway over the years, and I welcome the promising opportunity it presents for our 2024 cohort.”
These changes represent the most significant expansion of the scheme since inception in 2009.
New Scheme categories and expansions for 2024:
• Midwives: expansion of the scheme to include all new (2023) graduate midwives nationwide from 2024, and to also include 2022 graduates who haven’t yet registered for the scheme
• Pharmacists: a new category for new (2023) graduate pharmacists working in regional public sector hospitals and rural and regional community settings (nationwide, excluding the six main urban centres (metropolitan Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin))
• Anaesthetic technicians: a new category for new (2023) graduate anaesthetic technicians working in public sector hospitals nationwide, and to also include 2021 and 2022 graduates
• General Practice trainees: expansion of scheme places for rural and regional general practice trainees to expand the scheme to include Mâori and Pacific general practice trainees nationwide, and addition of the non-urban portions of the Waitematā and Counties Manukau districts, and Invercargill as eligible communities
• Registered and enrolled nurses: expansion of baseline scheme places for graduate nurses working in eligible specialties, such as mental health and aged care
• The registration of interest period for next year’s 2024 Voluntary Bonding Scheme intake is expected to open in early 2024 on the Te Whatu Ora website, and additional information for candidates and employers will become available in due course.