Three groups representing anaesthetists are calling for anaesthetic technician trainees to be paid for their hospital placements, saying the problem is not confined to nurses.
Third year nursing students are pleading to be paid during their hospital placements with many feeling broken and abused by the system before they are even fully trained.
Auckland University of Technology has been under fire from dozens of nursing students dissatisfied with how the university is treating their concerns about the degree.
Students from other nursing schools across New Zealand have also come forward, and said the issues are not unique to AUT.
Health Minister Andrew Little earlier conceded students should probably get some form of financial support in the last year of their study and the issue was under discussion.
The Society of Anaesthetists, one of three groups representing anaesthetic technicians, said the problem was not confined to nursing, and that a lack of anaesthetic technicians has resulted in ongoing surgery cancellations.
President Dr Morgan Edwards said they were concerned for the future of this workforce.
"There is genuine concern amongst anaesthetists on the reduced number or complete lack of anaesthetic technicians coming through the work placement programmes, particularly in the regions."
Edwards said supporting those in training programmes with paid placements will reduce barriers to training.
She said the change in training model - from a paid apprenticeship to an unpaid bachelor-style model - has resulted in high attrition of Māori and Pasifika students.
Edwards said, "Previously, there was a lot of recruitment of Māori and Pasifika students into anaesthetic technology because it was paid throughout.
"And now it because it's not there, we are seeing quite a big attrition in the applicants representing those groups, which is obviously very problematic for the workforce moving forward."
The Pasifika Anaesthetists in Aotearoa president and Samoan chief, Satuala Dr Leinani Aiono-Le Tagaloa, said supporting those in training programmes with paid placements will reduce barriers to training.
"It will allow anaesthetic trainees to contribute to their local community as well as remain close to their own whānau and support networks during training placements, a much more sustainable prospect."
Edwards said regional hospitals were struggling to attract anaesthetic technicians for both student placements and subsequent jobs.
She said, "You know there are the young, they are otherwise unemployed. They are studying full time and the ability to be able to go and self-fund some accommodation, in for example, Hawke's Bay for a month, when you're a first, second or even third year student just isn't there.
"So they're not, no, they're not actually attracting the students to the regions at the moment."
Edwards said discussions with Te Whatu Ora and the health minister were still in its infancy.
"I think don't really recognise what a crisis the workforce is going to be in moving forward, for both the cultural diversity, but also the regional representation," she said.