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International Nurses Day

THE role of nurses is constantly expanding to keep pace with a changing world, but the basic focus remains the same - nurses are always there for you, Ministry of Health Chief Advisor, Nursing, Frances Hughes said today in recognition of International Nurses Day.

Mrs Hughes today, acknowledged the contribution made by the 38,000 registered and enrolled nurses practising in New Zealand.

"During the day and night babies are born, children become sick, adults have accidents and older people can feel vulnerable and in need of support. But regardless of the time of day, nurses are always there for you to provide vital care to people of all ages."

Mrs Hughes said the old images of nurses playing an auxiliary role, emptying bed pans and plumping pillows have well and truly been cast off.

"Nurses educate mothers, immunise infants, screen children in schools, counsel adolescents about healthy lifestyles, encourage adults to exercise and eat well, improve the quality of life for the elderly and comfort the dying."

"These women and men are trained health professionals who have a lot more to offer in helping ensure New Zealanders get well and say healthy."

She said nursing today is more varied that in the past, and nurses must have a wider knowledge base."

"Patients are spending less time in hospital these days, and that means nurses not only have to quickly develop a rapport with the patient, but they also must have the knowledge to be able to perform a clinical assessment of the patients condition."

Nursing today is also about looking towards the future. The introduction of Healthline, a new telephone triage and health information service is one example of the nursing sector moving forward.

"With telephone triage nurses will have to rely more on questioning the patient to ensure they guide the patient towards the most appropriate care at the right time and right place. "

"This type of service is nothing new as nurses have always performed patient diagnoses. The only difference is now they have the resources to provide this service over the telephone."


For more information contact: Selina Gentry, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2483 or 025-277-5411 Internet address:

Facts and Figures About Nursing in New Zealand

55.4% Of nurses are employed in hospitals

5.8 % The number of male nurses and midwives in the total nursing workforce

1575 The number of registered nurses of Maori origin.

1/119 The ratio of registered nurses per population

42.6 Is the average working age of nurses (according to 1998 stats)

61.2% Of the total nursing work force are under the age of 45

38,068 The number of nurses practising in New Zealand

8,199 The number of nurses working in primary health care

57% Of midwives are under the age of 45 years

5% Of midwives are over the age of 60

3 The number of male midwives in New Zealand

24/365 The hours in the day and days in the year that nursing care is "there for you."

The variety of fields the nursing force work in include: military, mental health, sexual and reproductive health, Plunket out patient clinics, education, public health, district nurses, practise nursing, specialist nursing, research, Nursing Council of New Zealand.

The International Picture

Because nurses work in diverse roles and settings, they address people's health an illness needs at all times and across their life spans. Through their different roles, nurses enhance people's ability to deal with the multiple factors that influence their health status and health care needs. Some examples are:

In Kenya nurses run workshops for young people about sex education, which have resulted in a reduction in teenage pregnancies; UK nurses have collaborated with residents, police, media and housing officials to change an impoverished ghetto where drug use was rife, into a caring community with luncheon clubs, parenting classes, a parent-toddler group and a resource centre; In many African and Asian countries, nurses train and supervise traditional birth attendants, decreasing the occurrence of neo-natal tetanus; In London's Westminster palace, a nurse is part of a modern occupational health service, providing a walk-in health service for MPs and thousands of employees and visitors. Work ranges from dispensing headache remedies to dealing with emergencies such as cardiac arrests and injuries; Nurse practitioners in Belfast, Northern Ireland, have opened a drop-in centre providing primary health care for women, some as young as 14, involved in commercial sex; In Iceland, a telephone-based nursing intervention for mothers with children with behavioural difficulties, has resulted in a significant drop in the mothers fatigue and distress symptoms;

24 Hour Care - Nurses are Always There For You

They educate mothers, immunise infants, screen children in schools, counsel adolescents about healthy lifestyles, encourage adults to exercise and eat well, improve the quality of life for the elderly and comfort the dying.

Life Stage How nurses help Infancy and Childhood Ensure proper nutrition, including teaching mothers how to breast feed Screen vision and hearing Promote safety and accident prevention Monitor growth and development Immunisation

Adolescence Health and development counselling Reproductive and sex education Accident prevention and risk reduction Immunisation and screening

Adulthood Ensure healthy pregnancies Implement workplace health support Perform regular check-ups such as blood pressure, blood sugar

Older Person Support healthy ageing and value older people Promote full participating of older persons in social and economic life Add health to years and increase solidarity between generations

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