Celebrating AUT’s Nurses

12 May, 2023
Celebrating AUT’s Nurses

Every year International Nurses Day is celebrated on May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

She is widely considered as the founder of modern nursing, establishing one of the first secular nursing schools in the world in 1860s.

It’s therefore appropriate to use this as a time for reflection and celebration of the part AUT and our nurses play in Aotearoa.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) theme for 2023 is ‘Our Nurses. Our Future’ and it’s something that resonates with the Heads of Nursing at AUT.

Both Dr Jan Dewar (Ngāi Tahu) and Dr Rachel Macdiarmid are unwavering in their commitment to developing the future nursing workforce within the current health sector environment.

The duo, relatively new in their roles, understand the demands of the profession while recognising the opportunities for nurses to be positive change agents across all aspects of healthcare.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) says there are lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and these need to be translated into actions so that nurses are protected, respected, and valued.

“The pandemic has reinforced the absolutely vital role nurses play in healthcare for all people,” says Jan.

“For me, being a registered nurse is a privilege and a passion. Over my career in clinical practice, leadership and academia I continue to be excited about the many opportunities nurses have to impact the wellbeing of others. Nursing at AUT has a strong emphasis on equity and improvement of healthcare experience and outcomes across the system.”

As a registered nurse, Rachel says her passion has always been about making a difference for people.

“I see this as the privilege of being a nurse, being part of people's lives when they are often at their most vulnerable and being able to make a difference. Often this can be very small. I see our role in nursing education to role model compassion and care.”

According to the latest statistics from the Nursing Council of New Zealand Te Kaunihera Tapuhi o Aotearoa, there are 69,592 nurses holding Annual Practising Certificates in the country, a large proportion of which were trained at AUT.

Jan and Rachel, as the Heads of Nursing, are proud of the team of academics, clinical educators and administrative staff that support the education and development of both undergraduate and postgraduate nursing students at AUT.

One recent such graduate is Duc Phan, who completed the two-year Master of Nursing Science graduate entry programme to become a registered nurse. Duc now works in an acute hospital setting.

Duc had always wanted to work in healthcare, but it wasn’t an option for him at home in Vietnam. He had been working in marketing since graduating in 2014, but AUT was the way for him to finally achieve his dream.

But it didn’t come easily. Alongside his study and clinical placements, he had a part-time job on the side.

“Yeah, it was tough, especially in the first semester of the second year,” Duc says. It’s all been worth it, though.

When talking about working on shifts in the hospital Duc says everyone has good and bad days, particularly with the global nursing shortage.

But his experience at AUT helped prepare him, with support and a “great environment” to study.

“Personally, I do not agree that nursing is a vocation. It’s a profession where it takes a lot of effort to take care of people in need. You must look after yourself – which AUT helped me with.

“All of the nurses that I have had a chance to work with were wonderful. I learned a lot from them. They have helped me find my working style as a nurse right now,” he says.

And so, on May 12 2023, all of us should reflect on the nurses that practice across our communities and give thanks to those – including our very own AUT Nursing graduates – for the role they play.