The quick solution to the nursing shortage is to pay them more - or in other words, what they deserve.
The long-term option is to make nursing a trade and have apprentices.
New Zealand is short about 4000 nurses and there are other gaps in the health workforce too, with unions representing workers calling for solutions urgently.
Graduate nurses usually earn about $60,000 per year, whilst senior nurses can earn between $85,000 and $136,000, according to the careers.govt.nz website.
How likely a significant pay-rise is to happen is another story, and I want to focus on apprenticeships.
Apprentices work for and learn from employers on the job, complete practical on-the-job assessments, attend courses such as block courses, evening courses and day-release classes, and complete written assessments.
What's not to like about that?
The obvious thing is some people might not want to be looked after by someone in training, but the reality is there will be basic tasks they can do, which would free up registered nurses to attend to more complex duties.
Just like a builders apprentice might sweep up the work site, a nurse apprentice could start with simple jobs and build up to more difficult tasks.
Other than giving registered nurses more time to do important tasks, there are two other stand-out benefits I can see.
The first is being paid to learn on the job instead of paying for tertiary education.
The second is that at general practices, hospitals, or wherever apprentices were to work, employers could teach them the skills they actually need to know and will use.
How often do you hear about someone being taught something at university or a polytechnic, or even at high school, that they never end up using again? Training an apprentice means they learn the relevant, practical and important things employers want them to learn.
Health Minister Andrew Little says the Government is training more nurses than ever – 8190 in 2021 compared with 7369 in 2017 - and is offering incentives to work in small towns and rural areas that often find it hard to attract health workers.
It also has recruitment drives to get New Zealand nurses living overseas to come home and to encourage international nurses to move here.
This is likely where the aforementioned salary trouble starts and finishes - they can earn more overseas.
But if they don't need to pay off a student loan after having gone down the apprenticeship route, that's a great headstart financially.
It's not a quick fix, but it is one that just makes sense.