Contact Us

MidCentral Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora runs a Gateway programme for Palmerston North students who are thinking about careers in health.

Now in its fifth year at MidCentral, the Careerforce supported Gateway programme recently held its orientation day for a record 62 students.

Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora offers 14-week placements to high school students, giving them a taste of what a future career in health might look like.

Associate Director Allied Health at MidCentral Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora, Mandy Smith, is a passionate advocate for ‘Careerforce’s Gateway programmes’ and manages their Palmerston North placements.  Mandy recently received a Kaitaki Takiwā District Director’s Award for leadership for the outstanding work she had done to build Gateway at the hospital. The award recognises individuals who have demonstrated compassion, respect, courage and accountability.

Orientation day for new gateway students at MidCentral Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora

“The Gateway programme gives them a really good head start,” says Mandy.

“It’s amazing! They come in nervous and intimidated by the environment.

“They don’t have any health knowledge, generally, and by the time they leave, they are much more comfortable in the space. 

“They gain credits towards their NZQA qualifications, as well as the skills, work experience and confidence.”

MidCentral offers placements for students from schools and colleges across Palmerston North, Rangitikei, Whanganui, Horowhenua and Feilding.

“The programme supports students on many different pathways,” says Mandy. “We have placements for non-registered roles such as health care assistant, kaiāwhina, pharmacy technicians, Sterile Sciences Technicians and orderlies. Also Registered professions in medicine, nursing and allied health scientific and technical. There are also placements out in the community e.g. at rest homes, general practitioner and optician practices.

Mandy Smith with Dr Jeff Brown receiving the Kaitaki Takiwā District Director’s Award for Leadership

Students are invited to an orientation day, then attend once a week for 14 weeks, usually within school hours. They attend four pre-learning teaching sessions to do the unit standards which helps them get ready for the workplace. Students rotate every 4 to 5 weeks so they can start to develop relationships in one service.

“The students participate in a reflection session following their placement each week. This enables them to reflect on what they have learnt, how they felt in the situations they encountered and what their learning goal is for the following week,” says Mandy.

“As an organisation, we benefit in so many ways. We are encouraging students to get involved in health. People know there are doctors and nurses, but they often don’t know about support services such as orderlies, and allied health, scientific and technical professionals, physios etc.  We need to engage with them and show them what we do, so that more people will come into our health career pathways.

“We do see young people transitioning into the workplace. It’s not just a 14-week programme. We encourage the students to stay in touch with us. We keep the connections and relationships going. We’ve seen students who came and worked as health care assistants and went on and to study nursing and come back.  Some have gone on to have lifelong careers e.g. as a nurse or physio.”

“It’s the health careers that really inspire me to want to share that with students. It’s a great career opportunity. There are so many roles and opportunities here within health and the people in health are great.

“I enjoy seeing the students coming through, seeing them develop throughout the programme – they are so nervous, and by the end of it they are confident and excited about health careers. One person I see in the evenings here started off as a gateway student and now is a confident orderly doing her nursing training.”

For more information about the Careerforce Gateway programme, visit our web pages for high schools.