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End of an Era for Long-Serving Duty Nurse Manager

28 May 2015

End of an Era for Long-Serving Duty Nurse Manager

Jude Olsen of Mount Maunganui with his grandmother Maria Roberts of Hamilton formerly of Huntly

The day Jude Olsen told his grandmother Maria Roberts that he wanted to be a nurse, it bowled her over with surprise quickly followed by immense pride.

The 22-year-old is part of the 2015 nurse entry to practice (NETP) intake at Waikato Hospital and is working in Day of Surgery.

Maria is a duty nurse manager who retires from nursing on Friday after 54 years, seven of which she took off to have her three children.

It’s fair to say their routes into the profession and into the hospital were quite different. Maria, originally from Huntly and now living in Hamilton, was born at Waikato Hospital, as were her children. As a child, she spent several months in Waikato Hospital’s Sunshine Ward where she had two big blocks of time.

“From then I wanted to be a nurse because that is what I knew and I had been exposed to it for a period of time.”

Jude is from Mt Maunganui and was unsure what he wanted to do when he left school so he did some kiwifruit picking and a stint in the volunteer fire service.

He stayed regularly with his grandmother and saw how much satisfaction she got out of nursing and at 19, he told her he wanted to be a nurse too.

His other grandmother, Margaret Olsen of Gisborne, is also a nurse.

“I guess nursing is in the blood,” he said, albeit missing a generation as none of Maria’s children ever wanted to get into it. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”

Maria did the old hospital-based training at Waikato Hospital while Jude came via the Wintec route. His science ability at high school had never been particularly good but once he had a focus and a goal to be a nurse, his academic grades were outstanding.

He had placements at Waikato, Tokoroa and Thames hospitals and says he loves the nursing he does in Day of Surgery.

He is uncertain at this stage where he might finally end up but charge nurse manager Raewyn Wilson says she thinks an area such as Critical Care would suit his particular skills.

Maria admits to being very proud of her grandson. “He got no favours from anyone, he’s just such a neat kid.”
One of her other grandsons, 24-year-old Luigi Prisco, is also training to be a nurse. The third grandson Soren Olsen, 18, is at Otago University studying law.

Maria has been a duty nurse manager since its establishment at Waikato Hospital in 1992 and prior to that was an afternoon supervisor.

She has seen three major changes in nursing in her time at Waikato Hospital.

The first is the training through polytechnics, which she believes, has made nursing safer.

The second is the introduction of patients and family rights. When she spent months in the Sunshine Ward as a child, her parents and grandparents visited her weekly and only for an hour at a time. Now parents are encouraged to spend a lot of time with their children, including overnight, as part of the nursing care support.

And the third change is the move towards a more business-like model for hospitals, which allows nurses to have a say in budgets and managing their wards.

Maria wants no fuss on her last day. She has no doubt retirement will be busy and she will be able to spend more time with her friends something that shift work in the past has made difficult.

Her contribution has been recognised by Sue Hayward, director of nursing and midwifery.

“Duty nurse managers have and continue to have an enormous breadth and depth of influence and actual control over so many aspects of a hospital’s life.

“They are the ones who organise, oversee and then check on patient flow after hours, skill mix concerns on a ward at 2am, transfers in and out all hours of the day and night, helping out and dealing with all types of emergencies and requests, whether to fill a sudden roster need or how a relative can find a newly admitted patient.

“And what they can’t tell you about the de-escalation of tense situations is really not worth knowing.

“Maria has been part of the growth of this role, her contribution is well recognised and she should take pride in the fact that the difference she has made is making those who remain and come after her into a duty nurse manager role have far less to conquer,” she said.


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