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Career Planner

Plan How to Achieve Your Health Career Goals

Deciding that you want a rewarding career in the health sector is your first step. There are numerous ways to enter the health sector, whether you are at school or looking for a career change. Below is some essential information and resources to assist you in the decision. If you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to get in contact with the team at WhyOra, who will be able to provide more in depth information and advice to realise your career goals.

Now is a good time to start thinking about the subjects you are taking.
Careers.govt.nz has good information and activities to help you choose which subjects to take.

>>View Career Options

Students who did well in NCEA Level 2 or higher (usually Year 12) can apply to go straight to university. You must be under 20. You are assessed on your marks and a recommendation is made from someone such as a teacher. This is called Discretionary Entrance. There are other courses at other educational institutions such as polytech or wananga with NCEA Level 2, so it is good to have a look around at what options are available..

There are many options after year 13 such as studying at polytech, wananga, private training organisations or university. Most courses will say what you need to be able to enrol.

To get into university you must have a minimum number of credits to qualify for what is called University Entrance. Universities have information on these requirements on their website.

If you are not in school or have been working it is still possible to study. If you don’t have what is required to get into a course you can complete a bridging course or foundation study course. These are designed to prepare you for study and usually take about six months to a year.

Passing a bridging or foundation course means that a student has shown they are ready to study. Students can also learn while they are working and getting paid, this is called workplace learning. Places that offer this kind of learning are called industry training organisations. You can study part-time while you work. It’s best to speak with a course provider about organising this.

>>Find Out More

WhyOra Student Tips for Secondary School Students: Otago University

Begin your journey into healthcare early by taking up these awesome opportunities offered by Otago University. These scholarships allow secondary school students to head down to Dunedin and sample life as a tertiary student studying health and sciences.

>>Find Out Scholarship Information for Secondary School Maori Students

  • Reach Programme: Realising Educational Aspirations for Careers in Health (REACH) is a scholarship for Year 13 Māori secondary students who have a keen interest in health and would like to sample life as a student in Dunedin studying health sciences.

>>View WhyOra Student Handbook

  • OCE (On Campus Experience): On Campus Experience is a scholarship that provides an opportunity for Year 13 Maori students to sample living and learning at the University of Otago.

>>View OCE Application and Information Sheet

  • Nga-mahi-a-ringa-putaiao-scholarship (Hands on at Otago): Nga-mahi-a-ringa-putaiao-scholarship provides Year 12 and Year 13 Maori students with the opportunity to gain hands on experience in science based research at Otago University.

>>View Hands on Otago Scholarship Categories

  • Te Rangatahi o te Moana: Te Rangatahi O te Moana is a scholarship for Year 11 and Year 12 Maori students who have a keen interest in science and are willing to develop their skills in research and team based project work.

>>View Te Rangitahi O te Moana Project Information Sheet

There are a number of pathways which help to better prepare you for first year health science at Otago University. These courses are recommended for those with limited background in the health science subjects.

>>View HSFY Information

  • Foundation year: Is a year’s long course which prepares you for the first year health science course.

>>View Foundation year Information

  • Tu Kahika Scholarship: Tū Kahika is a scholarship which assists Maori students into the foundation year, providing financial assistance toward tuition fees and accommodation.

>>Find out more about the Tu Kahika Scholarship

>>Download Tu Kahika Information Pack

  • Chem 150 – Concepts of Chemistry: Chem 150 is a paper taught over summer school recommended for those with limited chemistry background. Prepares students for Chem 191: The chemical basis of biology in health science first year.

>>Find Out More

  • Introductory Chemistry: Introductory Chemistry is taught online via distance learning and covers the same content as Chem 150 excluding lab work. This paper is recommended for those with limited chemistry background ,preparing students for Chem 191: The chemical basis of biology in Health Science First Year

>>Find Out More About Introductory Chemistry

  • Jump start physics: Jump start physics is taught over summer school for students with limited physics background. This prepares students for Phsi 191: biological physics in Health Science First Year.

>>Find Out More About Jump Start Physics

Click on the link below to find out more about Health Science first year at Otago University,  including links to apply and prepare for FYHS and the pathways into further study (professional programmes, restricted programmes, B sci, B med science

>>Find Out More

>>More Information About the Course

>>View Pathways.

For further information, contact health-sciences@otago.ac.nz

There is lots of support available for Maori students at Otago University. Our current Whyora students studying health and sciences at Otago have compiled some tips and hints for those of you heading to Dunedin.

Maori Workforce Development Unit (MWDU): The Maori workforce development unit act as the main point of contact with support regarding your studies in first year and throughout your health studies. Services include providing information, guidance, and support for Māori seeking pathways into health science study and further into health professional programmes at the University of Otago.

Helpful Events held by the Maori workforce development team:

  • Information and kai night: held within the first week of study provides the opportunity to meet fellow Maori students, understand the requirements of your study and how MWDU can support you along the way.
  • 1 on 1 catch ups with the support staff to discuss study goals and the support you require to achieve them
  • Register for SWAT sessions where you will be introduced to student mentors from the professional programmes who will discuss study techniques and note taking tips for health science studies.
  • Sign up for weekend workshops: Workshop tutorials are held throughout the semester for health science papers
  • Attend information nights throughout the semester to ensure you remain up to date with study requirements. i.e. English test, UMAT, professional programme application
  • Look out for emails from any of the staff from the Maori workforce development team and follow up any events or support you are not sure about.

Maori Centre: Maori Centre provide support services for all Maori students studying at Otago University.

Website to the Maori centre: http://www.otago.ac.nz/maoricentre/index.html

Tips and events held by Maori Centre

  • Arriving to Dunedin by plane? – contact the Maori centre for shuttle pick up at orientation@otago.ac.nz
  • Get involved with Maori orientation week. All Maori students should receive a Maori orientation pack detailing important dates and events including a welcoming Powiri.
  • Visit the Maori centre and fill out a tutorial application form to register for weekly tutorials for all health science subjects.
  • Be sure to make the most of the Maori student wharae facilities including computer suite, study rooms and kitchen. This is a popular place for health science students to meet and interact.
  • Register for the Ka rakiraki a tane mentoring programme where you are matched with a snr student studying in the same area.
  • Sign up for see the solutions virtual learning package. Online tutorial videos work through past exam questions for the health science papers.

Te Roopu Maori student association: Te Roopu Maori student association run social events throughout the semester for Maori students.

  • Join Te Roopu Maori on Facebook and look out for upcoming events
    • Study nights
    • Kai and catch up breakfasts/lunch/evenings
  • Head down to tent city during O week to visit the Te Roopu Maori stand for freebees and a chat.
  • Uni tutor tutorials: Be sure to look out for uni tutor tutorials held for all heath science papers during exam study break. Previous students have found these very valuable
  • Hostel Tutorials: Ask your hostel whether they provide in house tutorials for health science papers.
  • Meet with our student contact: Kenny Hau who has studied health science and has now taken up one of the professional programmes
  • Stay in touch with the Why Ora team : Michelle Martin will ensure you are receiving all the support available to you at Otago University


It is important to think about how much it will cost when figuring out what you want to do. Most courses cost around $5000 per year, some are cheaper and might even cost nothing, while others cost a lot more than $5000.

You may be able to get help with paying fees and to support yourself while studying:


A scholarship is money given to someone to help cover study costs. Scholarship information is available from many different places and it is a good idea to look into scholarships early. Click here for a list of scholarships.


A student allowance is a weekly payment to help with your living costs while you study full-time. A student allowance doesn’t have to be paid back. Student allowances are handled by Studylink. For more information go to http://www.studylink.govt.nz.

Student Loan

This is money that is borrowed to help pay for study. It can pay for compulsory fees, course-related costs or living costs. You have to pay a student loan back. Student loans are handled by Studylink.

How to apply

  1. Once you have decided where you might like to study, apply for admission online or by filling out forms.
  2. Someone should get back to you to let you know they have received your application.
  3. Your application is assessed.
  4. Programme approval given or declined.
  5. Select and enroll in your courses.
  6. Pay your fees.
  7. On successful completion of your online enrolment, a fees invoice will be posted to you.
  8. Arrange payment by the due date on your invoice.

Places to study

Colleges of Education

Provide teacher education and research related to the early childhood and compulsory sectors of education, and provide associated social and educational service roles. See Association of Colleges of Education in New Zealand for more information.

Government Training Establishments

State-owned organisations (other than an education institution) that provide education, training or assessment services, eg Navy and Department of Conservation. Commonly known as GTE.

Industry Training Organisation

A body recognised under the Industry Training Act 1992 as having responsibility for setting standards and arranging the delivery of industry training for the sector it represents. Commonly known as ITO. See Tertiary Education Commission for a full list of registered ITOs.

Polytechnics/Institutes of Technology

Deliver technical, vocational and professional education. They also promote research, particularly applied and technological research that aids development. See Association of Polytechnics in New Zealand for more information.

Private Training Establishments

Are private organisations providing education/training (ie they are not state owned) registered with NZQA. Commonly known as PTE.

Standard Setting Bodies

A collective term that covers industry training organisations and advisory groups; these organisations are recognised by NZQA as nationally representative of experts in a particular field for the purposes of establishing standards for national qualifications.


Are characterised by a wide diversity of teaching and research, especially at a higher level, that maintains, advances, disseminates, and assists the application of knowledge, and develops intellectual independence. See the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee.


An organisation recognised as a wãnanga by the Crown under the Education Amendment Act 1990, section 162. These are teaching and research institutions that maintain, advance, and disseminate knowledge, develop intellectual independence, and assist the application of knowledge regarding ahuatanga Māori (Māori tradition) according to tikanga Māori (Māori custom).

How long will it take

A doctorate is a research degree that is at a significantly higher level than a masterate level. At this level the student becomes independent and will decide what contribution they will make to our current knowledge base. They will write a thesis that will challenge what is already known or add to research that has already been done. Students will work with experts of their chosen areas throughout a doctorate. When they have finished they will truly be experts of their chosen professions/ areas of study. A doctorate degree takes two years to complete. This is on top of the three years a student has spent completing a bachelor degree and the two years for a Masters degree.

Masters Degree

A masters degree can be used to increase graduates understanding of their chosen degree, or alternatively to build on knowledge and skills derived from occupational experience. A student must demonstrate a significant grasp of theoretically sophisticated subject matter, advanced evaluation skills, and advanced analysis and problem solving skills. Most students will have to write a Masters thesis. A masters programme will involve a large amount of supervised research. A masters degree takes two years to complete. This is on top of the three years for a bachelor degree.

Postgraduate Diploma

A postgraduate diploma is designed to extend and deepen graduates knowledge of their chosen bachelors degree. It serves as a qualification that can be used to personally develop skills and knowledge. A postgraduate diploma takes two years to complete. This is on top of the three years completing a bachelors.

Postgraduate Certificate

A postgraduate certificate is designed to extend and deepen graduates knowledge of their chosen bachelors degree. It serves as a qualification that can be used to personally develop skills and knowledge. A postgraduate certificate takes one year to complete. This is on top of the three years a student has spent doing their bachelors.

Graduate Diploma

A graduate diploma is another way for post graduate students to undertake study at an undergraduate level. These diplomas are usually used to broaden knowledge and skillsl. A graduate diploma will take two years to complete.

Graduate Certificate

A graduate certificate is primarily used as a vehicle for postgraduate students to undertake study at an undergraduate level. These certificates are usually used as bridging courses. A graduate certificate will take a year to complete.
Note: Before people attain their bachelors they are classified as an undergraduate. However, after they have graduated they become postgraduates.

Bachelors Degree with Honours

A bachelors degree may be awarded with honours, which recognises advanced or distinguished study.. A person with honours may be permitted to enroll in a masters degree or a doctoral. A bachelors degree with honours will take four years to complete.

Bachelors Degree

A bachelors degree is an introduction to the knowledge, ideas, principles, concepts, research methods and problem solving techniques of a recognised major subject (or subjects in the case of a double/conjoint degree). This qualification prepares a candidate for advanced study as well as directed research. Bachelor degree programmes are taught mainly by institutions engaged in research. A bachelors degree will take three years to complete.


A diploma is the next level of qualification that is aimed at preparing learners for self-directed application of skills and knowledge. These qualifications recognise capacity for initiative and judgment across a broad range of educational and vocational areas. A diploma takes two years to complete.


A certificate is the smallest size of qualification that can be attained and registered in New Zealand. Certificates are regularly used to prepare candidates for both employment and further education and training. A certificate will take a year to complete.

Post Year 13

Auckland University Whakapiki Ake
MAPAS – Māori and Pacific Admission Scheme, is a supportive environment that provides admission, academic and pastoral support for Māori and Pacific students who are studying foundation and undergraduate programmes within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. Our goal is to support the transitioning and retention of MAPAS students through their cultural and educational journey to successfully complete and graduate.

Otago University Tū Kahika: A Health Sciences scholarship programme for Māori – Post year 13
The University of Otago’s Tū Kahika Scholarship is a two-semester (February to October) Health Sciences programme run within Foundation Year. Tū Kahika prepares Māori students academically for their first year of tertiary study and a future career in Māori health.

Tū Kahika is an award that supports young Māori students interested in a career in health, into and through the University of Otago’s Foundation Year Health Sciences course and beyond.

Tū Kahika prepares students for further study in Health Sciences (particularly Health Sciences First Year) by providing wrap-around academic, cultural, pastoral and financial support over the year.

Tū Kahika students receive guaranteed accommodation in a Residential College, and financial assistance towards tuition fees and accommodation costs.
The University of Otago acknowledges the support for Tū Kahika received from the Ministry of Health and the Tertiary Education Commission.

Year 13

Auckland University / Whakapiki Ake COACH (Creating Opportunites for A Career in Health) https://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/en/faculty/tkhm/vision-20-20/whakapiki-ake.html

COACH is a four-day, Year 13 transitioning programme held at Waipapa Marae, The University of Auckland. Māori students who are interested in a career in health, and have exposure to NCEA Level 2 and Level 3 in Applied Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), Maths and English (IB or CIE equivalent) are eligible to apply.

Otago University REACH Scholarship http://www.otago.ac.nz/mhwdu/tearahauora/index.html#reach

R.E.A.C.H (REACH): Realising Educational Aspirations for Careers in Health, is a scholarship for Year 13 Māori secondary students interested in a career in health.
The programme

The REACH Otago Scholarship (Realising Educational Aspirations for Careers in Health) provides the opportunity for 20 year 13 Māori students to spend three nights and days on the University of Otago’s Dunedin campus. Students from across New Zealand experience university life first-hand: living in, and visiting, residential colleges; attending lectures; meeting current Otago students; and learning about the various degree and study options Otago offers, particularly in health.

REACH students thoroughly enjoy the hands-on opportunities provided by many of Otago’s faculties, schools, and departments—such as Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Human Nutrition.

REACH provides learning opportunities and students report feeling more informed about degree planning and the support networks available at Otago.

Otago University On Campus Experience 2016 (Māori students)

On Campus Experience (OCE) is a fully funded scholarship that provides an amazing opportunity for senior secondary students (Y 13) of Mãori descent to sample living and learning at the University of Otago. Students will explore the Otago campus and the student city of Dunedin. They will have the opportunity to attend lectures in their areas of interest as well as meet academic staff and students. They will experience life in a residential college and meet the Mãori Centre staff that provides great support for Mãori students when they come to Otago.

Year 12

Auckland University/ Whakapiki Ake – MASH (Māori Achieving Success in Health) – https://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/en/faculty/tkhm/vision-20-20/whakapiki-ake.html

MASH is a four-day, Year 12 academic enrichment programme held at Waipapa Marae, The University of Auckland. Māori students who are interested in a career in health, and have exposure to NCEA Level 2 Applied Sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics), Maths and English (IB or CIE equivalent) are eligible to apply.