Take five with Dr Lisa Stewart

The Associate Head of the School of Nursing debunks some of the myths and misconceptions about nursing as a career.

Dr Lisa Stewart (second from left, front row) is the Associate Head of the School of Nursing.

Q. What’s the most commonly asked question about our Nursing programme?

A. We are often asked if our Nursing programme is all theory and the answer is ‘no’.  Our student nurses get practical training in a range of clinical settings throughout the programme and this begins in their first year with a three-week acute care placement.

Q. Is nursing a female profession?

A. Historically, nursing was a male dominated career. Florence Nightingale, credited with founding modern nursing, had a strong influence on declaring women more suited to the role - however this was during the Victorian era and Nursing has come a long way since then. There are a number of male nurses and an increasing number of male nursing students. Gender does not determine who should or would be a good nurse but rather a person’s ability to apply in-depth knowledge, effective communication, people skills, leadership and teamwork are the attributes that makes a great nurse.

Q. Do nurses just do the work doctors do not want to do?

A. The role of a nurse has evolved and changed dramatically over the years. Nurses work autonomously and in collaboration with other health professionals. Nursing focusses on the care of individuals, families and communities, with the aim of supporting them to attain, maintain or recover optimal health and quality of life. The role of nurses differs from that of a doctor and focusses more on the human impact of illness, disease or impairment. Furthermore, nursing is rated as one of the most respected professions worldwide, is the largest professional group in healthcare and is a vital component of the healthcare system.

Q. Do nurses just work in hospitals?

A. Nurses work in a range of settings from hospitals to community based settings. There is increasing scope for nurses to achieve leadership and advanced practice roles especially in community and aged residential care settings where there is a high demand for Nurse Practitioners. Other areas nurses can work in are mental health services, public health settings, palliative care and child health.

Q. Once I get a job as a nurse, how easy is it to move from one clinical setting to another?

A. Because the nursing education you receive to become a registered nurse exposes you to a number of different care settings, you are classified as a comprehensive nurse which means you can work in any clinical field. Therefore becoming a nurse offers lots of flexibility and the opportunity for a multi-dimensional, dynamic and varied career. In addition, New Zealand trained nurses are highly sought after internationally so nursing is a great qualification to have before embarking on your OE.