On 12 May, the New Zealand Nurses Organisation celebrates International Nurses Day. We headed to the wards to meet some Auckland nurses and midwives and talk to them about their jobs.
Eliza Wong, 26
Registered Nurse/Staff Nurse, General Surgery
What makes a great patient?
They are all great. Each patient is an individual. They are often vulnerable people who are in uncertain, scary situations. No one wakes up and says, ‘I want to be a patient’. Having surgery is interrupting to their lives. There are always challenges when people aren’t feeling their best. As nurses, we have to remind ourselves of this, and work with the patient and their family to build partnerships and understanding. However, patients also have their part to play in the therapeutic relationship through engaging in mutual respect.
What do you enjoy about your job?
So much. It’s incredibly dynamic, there is lots of space for learning, there is a lot of requirement for problem solving and critical thinking. I always try and think how and why, and stay one step ahead. I love connecting with people and building partnerships to make a positive influence. I’m constantly studying to improve my practice. It’s about looking at new research and new ways of doing things. Post-grad studies are DHB-funded, which is really great.
Shakira Camp, 28
Clinical Nurse Educator, Reablement Services
What do you like about your job?
When people are at their most frail and vulnerable, I really appreciate the trust they afford in me, to enable me to make a positive impact on their lives and their families. I enjoy being part of a wider healthcare team that provides the path to their recovery. It’s rewarding to experience the levels of trust that these people place in the dedicated doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. You learn from both the human fragility and the strength that
How do you see your role?
When people are admitted to hospital it’s rarely of their own choosing and it’s at this point they are at their most vulnerable. It’s the role of the nurses to alleviate any fear and trepidation they have by providing a warm, friendly environment so they feel safe and have the opportunity to be open about their condition, and any important aspects of their life that may impact that condition. Everybody has a story, and I have been privileged to have heard many fascinating stories and have been able to share in special parts of people’s lives. I have often left a shift feeling trusted and enriched.
Nik Adams, 37
Nurse Educator, Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit
How long have you been a nurse?
I was a new grad in 2005, so I have been in nursing for 12 years. Before that, I worked as a waiter and a security guard at the casino. I also nursed on a cruise ship, which was like being in a general practice. I was looking after chronic meds for staff with conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, dealing with broken bones, that sort of thing.
How many other men do you work with?
In my department there’s quite a few – about 40 out of 150 nurses, but on the wards I think it’s probably less than that. Old stereotypes of nursing being a woman’s job have stuck around, though I don’t agree with them.
What makes a great nurse?
Someone who is energetic, passionate, has attention to detail, and doesn’t quit when things get hard.
Jessica Jordan, 28
Core Midwife, Women’s Assessment Unit
What are your job’s biggest challenges?
I think in the community there is sometimes
a lack of recognition for the role that midwives have, the skill level we have, and the critical situations we are regularly involved in. We work long hours; you’ll have been up for hours, ready to hand over your caseload and realise, ‘I haven’t been for a wee since I got up this morning’.
What, if anything, would you like to change about your job?
I’d love to clone all of my fabulous midwifery colleagues, so there were more of us!
Natalie Rewa-Morgan, 33
Registered Nurse/Staff Nurse, Department of Critical Care
Your job must involve a lot of intense experiences.
Quite often, the things you never forget in ICU are the tough times. I will always remember a young patient who was critically ill for some time. When they passed away, I saw their family get great closure through their loved one donating their organs – it was extremely powerful to see the impact on a family experiencing loss, knowing other lives were going to be saved or transformed.
Does shift work ruin your social life?
It can be hard to see family and friends at times and sometimes they struggle to understand the toll that shift work can take – luckily I have a very supportive network, it can just be a bit tough when you miss out on things!
Anna MacGregor, 39
Nurse Director, Cardiovascular, Surgical and Perioperative Directorates
Why did you decide to become a registered nurse?
I often think back to that. I think I knew quite early on that I wanted to help and care for others, so it was a natural progression. There are other caring professions but people trust a nurse, they feel safe with them.
Are there moments that are particularly memorable to you?
There are many experiences that remain poignant in my mind over my career. One that stands out though was during a time where I was a Clinical Charge Nurse in an acute and busy environment. A patient was admitted who had suffered a stroke, his prognosis was not good and it had been agreed that palliative care was the best pathway for this patient. The patient’s family were very distressed and I could clearly see they needed some additional support to understand and navigate their way through what was going to happen next. Despite the busyness of the department and shift, I knew I had to spend some time with them. I found out they had never been with someone who was dying and were really unsure of what to expect. I prepared them as best I could and made sure that myself and other members of the team had answered all their questions, as well as ascertaining what was important to them during this very emotional and difficult time. A month later, I received the most beautiful letter explaining that taking that time and focussing on them and what they needed made them feel like they were the only people in the hospital and that they felt so well-cared for as a family. I still have that letter, it has always been a reminder to me how important good communication, empathy and putting patients and their families at the centre of everything we do is.
Anna Schofield, 42
Director of Mental Health, Mental Health
Which career experiences stand out the most for you?
I can’t really comment about just one experience. I work with people who have all kinds of illnesses: psychosis, depression, eating disorders. Patients generally only stay with us for a short time before moving out into the community to be rehabilitated. For the most unwell people, it is about finding a way to manage the illness itself inside a multidisciplinary team. It’s the moments where you or your team are working alongside people and their whānau, and the moments of their recovery that I relish.
What if anything, would you like to change about your job?
There is still some work to be done on how people view serious mental illness – there is still stigma attached to it. We have come a long way in terms of discrimination, but I would like to see that everyone had “citizenship” and that, regardless of their mental health, were treated equally.
Gabrielle Manaloto, 23
Registered Nurse, Child and Family Unit, Starship Child Health
Can nurses make a difference?
When I was on a nursing placement in community mental health, I had the opportunity to spend some time in youth forensic mental health and I saw firsthand how a report written by a nurse changed the outcome of a court case for this young person. It showed me how broad and developed nursing roles have become and that nurses have the ability to really influence outcomes.
What makes a great patient?
I view my patients all equally, but those that are easiest to work with know they have a role in their own care and are prepared to work with their clinical team in an openly communicative manner. I have learned a lot through clients providing insight into what worked well and what didn’t work so well for them – particularly in mental health, where treatment and management depends so much on relationships.
Margaret Dotchin, 54
Chief Nursing Officer, Executive Leadership Team
How long have you been a nurse?
I started training in 1982 at Middlemore Hospital under what was then the Auckland Hospital Board. At the time it was really easy to get a job as a nurse in the UK, so that’s what all my friends and I did. Since coming home, I have been with Auckland DHB for more than 30 years. We currently have around 3500 nurses in this hospital.
What makes a great patient?
They are all great. Our role is to provide care that meets the needs of each patient and their whānau.