I am a new graduate nurse, working for Plunket in eastern Auckland. I first registered as a nurse 11 months ago, having gained a conjoint degree in Nursing and Population Health. I knew early on in my nursing training that the hospital was not a place for me; not only did I find the shift work and hierarchy difficult, but I didn't feel that I was aptly fulfilling my need to "make a difference". I in no way believe that hospital-based nursing is not a honourable and valuable role, but I was constantly struck by the amount of preventable illness that I saw on the wards. Through my dip into population health, I could really see the value of community and primary care, and began to feel very passionate about the allocation of resources to preventative rather than treatment services. The cliff model of healthcare services is one that speaks to me so resonantly, and I certainly felt like the ambulance at its base, piecing together those who had fallen only to send them climbing back up the cliff again.
And so, after passing my state final I sought a job in the primary healthcare field, and was lucky to be selected for a position at Plunket. I was initially nervous, having minimal paediatric experience and no children of my own, but the past 8 months in my role have been incredibly enjoyable and the most fantastic experience.
More importantly, my role as a Plunket nurse is fulfilling. I love that I get to work with a focus on the Well child, not the sick patient. I get asked by my family and friends countless times whether I enjoy "cuddling babies all day", but I know that my role is far more privileged and important. I have helped mums to successfully breastfeed, and fulfil the most basic (but sometimes overwhelming) needs of their infant. I have taught parents to sleep their child safely, playing my part in preventing tragic deaths from SUDI. I develop trusting relationships with all of my clients, and when mothers disclose family violence, I am there to listen and support them and their children. I have been emotionally drained some days, and overwhelmed to the point of tears on occasion, but for me that is just part of my beautiful and challenging job.
I am looking forward to the career that Plunket will bring me, and I hope that nursing continues to offer me a wealth of experience and fulfilment. Clients and the community may not understand that I am a nurse, a social worker, an advocate, a counsellor, a facilitator, a support system, and a gateway to the world of healthcare, but I hope through these roles I am helping to foster thriving children, on their way to becoming healthy and productive adults. I am a nurse who helps to stop falls from the healthcare cliff, and I love it. Plunket's goal, after all, is to give every child the best start in life. Community nursing is the place for me, and I AM making a difference.