School of Nursing principal Mary MacManus said the group represented the school’s first graduates since its re-establishment three years ago.
The nurses completed their course last year December and a ceremony was held to commemorate their registration.
“They have successfully completed a three year full-time programme run in partnership between the Ministry of Health and CITTI,” MacManus said.
“The final experience in the final year of their course was three weeks of work experience in a community Pacific health setting in Auckland, New Zealand.
“This was a highly successful visit with students learning from registered nurses in NZ including Cook Islands nurses who were already there,” she said.
She said the students showed an ability to work effectively in these settings proving they are capable of working anywhere in the Cook Islands itself.
Meanwhile, MacManus said seven more students had begun their final year of study this week and another 15 students had enrolled and would start their first year course next week.
A small welcome had been organised by the ministry for the 15 students of which 12 are Cook Islanders.
MacManus said plans for further intake in the future had yet to be confirmed. However, Health minister Nandi Glassie has previously said that while the nursing school has been successfully re-established, foreign nurses will not be phased out because the graduates are replacing retired nurses.
But Ministry of Health Director of Funding and Planning Ana Mataitini said in an interview last year that the shortage nursing skills in the Cook Islands would no longer be an issue after the graduation.
“The ministry has worked towards addressing the shortage of (local) nurses and through the re-establishment of the nursing school and funding from government we have been able to work on this.”
The School of Nursing will host a visit from eight year three nursing students from the Manukau Institute of Technology in New Zealand from February 27 to March 10 and eight year three nursing students from the University of South Australia will visit from April 18 -28.
The two visits will involve work experience at the Rarotonga Hospital and both groups will be hosted by Cook Islands third year students.