This week has seen 23 new graduate nurses start work in the Whanganui health district.

"The fact that you've been able to employ all of the Whanganui class plus four from out of town is a real good news story," Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) member Kate Joblin said yesterday at the first board meeting of the year.

WDHB had 46 applicants through the Advanced Choice Employment Bureau, a system used to match applicants with workplaces and simplify the recruitment process.

Of those, 34 were shortlisted and interviewed.

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Director of nursing Sandy Blake said the DHB supported students, and while two had failed their exams, they were allowed to stay on working as healthcare assistants until they could resit the exams.

She said they received some money to hire graduates, but were able to spread that money out to hire more and "get more people around the table".

Chief executive Julie Patterson said the students were "our future".

"That's why we're not going to be shortsighted, and take them now. We'll struggle through the financials it creates because it's an investment in our future."