Waikato Hospital's Melody Mitchell says being a Māori nurse in management (managing 270 surgical nursing staff) gives her a unique opportunity to articulate her community’s needs.
Māori managers with a direct connection to the community can see the impact of inequity, says Mitchell, because it affects them and their families.
“There are characteristics around populations that are seen as minorities that could be changed or better understood if they had more Māori representing these communities at a management level.”
Mitchell manages one of the largest clusters of nurses at Waikato Hospital as the nurse manager of surgery and says the role can certainly be challenging.
“Being a manager can sometimes be a double-edged sword. First and foremost I am a nurse but I am now also a manager and sometimes I have to make decisions that are not very popular.”
This year she will begin postgraduate studies, and she has chosen to do her master’s degree in nursing, rather than health management or business.
Becoming a career nurse was not originally part of Mitchell’s life plan. She was accepted into physiotherapy but she decided it wasn’t what she wanted and her mum then convinced her to go into nursing.
“She told me it would give me career options, a job, but also I could go travelling,” she says.
On graduating from the then-Taranaki Polytechnic,she worked at Middlemore Hospital, then at Waikato Hospital, returning to Middlemore as an associate charge nurse, and then going back home to Taranaki as a charge nurse.
“I got so much exposure to procedures at a big hospital like Middlemore and then to those at a smaller hospital like Taranaki.
Mitchell questions what job other than nursing could have given her “such exposure to human life and all its challenges”.
“I got asked a few weeks ago why I am doing nursing again and not business or management – it is really simple, I am just so proud to be a nurse.”