Plunket’s first nurse practitioner Karen Thurston – whose NP scope includes babies, children and women – said she was looking forward to providing even greater support to whānau in her community following her registration.

Ngaruawhia-based Thurston came to Plunket 10 years ago as a new graduate and currently works four days a week as a Plunket nurse and one day at the Teen Parent Unit at Fraser High School where she works with another NP, Janice Wotton.

Plunket chief nurse Dr Jane O’Malley said it was an exciting time for Karen and her community with the new NP able to directly affect the outcomes of those whānau most in need in her community.

Thurston said she had seen many changes in communities since becoming a nurse.

“There is an increased level of need, and the disconnect between families and their community is leading to greater feelings of isolation and social anxiety.”

She said she was grateful for all the support from her family, Plunket and the local community while completing her master’s degree, including mentoring support from a local doctor. Thurston recently received the Margaret May-Blackwell Fellowship Travel and Study Scholarship from the NZNO.

Plunket has over 498 registered nurses, 390 of whom have undertaken postgraduate study and 76 are currently completing a postgraduate certificate in primary health nursing (delivered by Plunket in partnership with Whitireia Polytechnic to develop the Well Child Tamariki Ora nursing workforce).

“The potential to develop the nurse practitioner role within Plunket is something the organisation is definitely interested in exploring,” said O’Malley.


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