Q&A with Dr Jocelyn Peach

April 2015 Vol 15 (2)

Find out more about one of this country's most experienced directors of nursing: her drivers and her fundamental nursing philosophy.


Q&A Profile: Veteran director of nursing DR JOCELYN PEACH

JOB TITLE | Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Emergency Systems Planner

LOCATION | Waitemata District Health Board, Auckland 

Where and when did you train?

I trained at Middlemore Hospital as part of the Auckland Hospital Board School of Nursing graduating 

in 1978 as a registered general and obstetric nurse [RGON]. I loved every minute as it was a fulfillment of a dream. I had wanted to be a nurse since I was three years old.

What other qualifications do you hold?

Advanced Diploma of Nursing (1982), BA (1990), Masters in Business Studies (Hons) (1994), Doctorate in Nursing (2002), New Zealand Order of Merit (1999) for services to nursing.

What positions have you held in your nursing career so far?

After my post-registration year, I worked in Australia in a multi-trauma unit before returning to Auckland to specialise in Greenlane Hospital’s cardiothoracic unit. I went on to become a charge nurse manager in the cardiothoracic surgical ward and then a clinical nurse specialist. In the late 1980s, I became nurse advisor in the Auckland Hospital Board’s Chief Nurses Department, then in the early 1990s I was appointed as chief nurse to the Auckland Area Health Board and director of nursing at Auckland Hospital. In the mid-1990s I was appointed director of nursing and midwifery for the Auckland Crown Health Enterprise until 1999, when I applied for my current position at Waitemata District Health Board.

When and why did you decide to become a nurse?

My father was a doctor and my mother a home economics teacher working in Africa in a mission hospital and later in a general practice setting. From three years old I helped my parents making swabs for the steriliser and later helped out in the general practice. I was determined to be a nurse from three and have never changed my mind.

What do you love about nursing?

I have remained clinically engaged over the past 40 years of nursing, despite not being as confident clinically now as I used to be (due to being more involved in the leadership role). I love encouraging patients with meals, providing patient comfort care, helping patients in the emergency department and admissions unit. I enjoy assessing portfolios and encouraging nurses professionally.

What comprises your current role?

My role is that of professional leader, working with the DHB executive leadership team to plan strategically to meet our community’s health needs, and leading with the nurse and midwife leaders
to develop the profession’s capability to respond to the health needs at the district, regional and national level. My role is diverse – I believe that anything that affects the patients or nurses and midwives is my business – so I am busy and involved in all aspects of planning service delivery and
monitoring outcomes.

What are the best parts of being a director of nursing and midwifery?

Enjoy the variety of the role – being able to work at all layers from boardroom to bedside. I really enjoy working with primary care, with community-based health checks meeting people looking for
reassurance about their health needs, as well as supporting nurses and midwives working in inpatient settings and community-based care. I enjoy engaging with nurses in mental health and forensic mental health settings, public health nurses, district nurses, specialist advanced practice nurses, nurses working with children with disabilities, midwives – the list goes on. In my role I am excited by the diversity of practice and the wonderful clinical staff who work to provide the best care possible. I also enjoy being part of emergency systems planning.

And the parts that aren’t so good in 2015?

I have always disliked politics and making non-clinical decisions under pressure. The requirements of the role in 2015 haven’t changed from those of previous years.

If there was a fairy godmother of nursing, which three wishes would you ask to be granted for the New Zealand nursing workforce?

I want nursing to be present in the future as a strong and viable profession, confident of its place and contribution. The value of nursing is in its comprehensiveness, its practicality and its integration of caring and technical competence. I want nursing to continue to develop a strong self-image; to confidently express the value and purpose of nursing and be connected with the expectations of our
community. I want every New Zealander and every community to have access to the power of nursing expertise, whatever future scenario emerges. Nursing practised confidently and well is essential to the health and well being of every community.

What do you think are the most important personal characteristics needed to be a good nurse?

Intelligence. Excellent communicator. Resilience. Positive, proactive attitude. Confidence. Empathy. Commitment. Teamwork. 

What do you do to try and keep fit, healthy, happy and balanced?

I have to admit to not having a good work/life balance. I work every day and work long hours. I do limited exercise (though I do walk), and I love gardening, listening to music, reading and catching up
with family and friends.

What books are always on your bedside table?

I love reading mystery detective novels and historical thrillers. My brothers share my books.

What inspires your work ethic?

I work from a number of philosophical frameworks. I aim to work in partnership, to emphasise that everyone matters, encourage participation and protect through compassion the needs of patients and the profession. I am inspired by this whakataukī: Tawhiti rawa i to tātou haerenga atu te kore
haere tonu, maha rawa o tātou mahi te kore mahi tonu. We have come too far to not go further, we have done too much to not do more. I want to be remembered as having done my best.

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