Career path: Plunket educator

August 2016 Vol. 16 (4)

Seeing vulnerable children and stressed families on the paediatric ward gave ANNE HODREN the drive to nurse in the community to improve child health through prevention and early detection.

NAME: Anne Hodren

JOB TITLE: Plunket Society national educator

Nursing qualifications:

  • Diploma in Nursing 1984 (Wellington Polytechnic)
  • Plunket Certificate 1989 (Plunket)
  • BA Social Sciences (nursing) 1999 (Massey University)
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Nursing Practice 2003 (Otago Polytechnic)
  • Master of Nursing 2005 (Massey University)
  • Further postgraduate papers 2013 (University of Auckland)

Briefly describe your initial five years as an RN.

In my early nursing career I worked in several roles at Hutt and Wellington Hospitals including medical, general surgical, paediatrics, cardiothoracic surgery and radiology before moving to Christchurch to work in the neonatal unit and then a general medical ward.

Did you have a career plan (vague or definite) on becoming an RN? And how did those first five years influence your subsequent career?

On graduating I had no particular career plan as I was bonded, which meant on gaining a hospital placement I was routinely rotated between areas. Focusing on a particular practice area as a result was not possible but I had the opportunity to have a wide variety of experiences. Each experience provided me with growing skills in nursing care and communication, working as a team member and developing an interest in quality and innovation.

What led you into your current field or specialty?

One of my rotation placements was paediatrics; at the time it seemed like a daunting area of practice for a new graduate but it started my passion for working with children and their whānau. The vulnerability of children and disparity in health outcomes was apparent with many children with preventable infectious diseases and injuries admitted to the ward.

In the paediatric ward and NNU I saw the considerable stress that hospitalisation places on whānau. This gave me the drive and passion to want to work in the community to improve child health through prevention and early detection. On returning to Wellington from Christchurch an opportunity to undertake the Plunket training became available, leading to an amazing career change. I was provided with opportunities to work with whānau to share in their challenges and delights and to work in nursing leadership and education.

What qualifications, skills or stepping stone jobs do you think were particularly helpful and/or necessary in reaching your current role?

Undertaking professional development and postgraduate study has been vital to my practice, leading to my current role as a Plunket educator. My BA and MN degrees are the foundation that further professional development has built on.

I have developed a passion for learning about health disparity and its impact on communities and vulnerable children. More recently I have become increasingly interested in education on nurse client partnership, parenting and infant mental health. Last year I was awarded the Margaret May Blackwell Travel Fellowship to explore how child vulnerability could be reduced by strengthening caregiver infant relationships. The opportunity to travel to meet international experts in the field of infant mental health, community child health, training and research was invaluable to my role and the potential to lead change in practice and service delivery.

What personal characteristics do you believe are particularly important for nurses working in your role?

In my role as an educator I see the important personal characteristics as being empathy for nurses in their complex role, to be open-minded, reflective and innovative. As a Well Child nurse, I believe there is a need to be passionate to work within communities, to be hopeful that adverse child experiences will be reduced, to have a belief in the capacity of parents and the role of the Well Child nurse to support the reduction of disparity.

What career advice would you give to nurses seeking a similar role to yours?

I would suggest that nurses wanting to have a role in community practice and education talk to colleagues and nursing educationalists about their passion and career pathway. This includes how to gain clinical experience and which education pathway to take. This is not only nursing postgraduate education but also opportunities to attend conferences, short courses and seminars. Reflecting on current practice and evidence will help identify gaps and potential for innovation and change. Talking to clients and community groups about their current and future needs will help to keep relevant and client focused. Nurses also need to surround themselves with passionate people and mentors.

Describe your current role and responsibilities?

Currently I am a national educator working for Plunket. This role includes supporting Well Child/Tamariki Ora nurses undertaking the Postgraduate Certificate in Primary Health Care Speciality Nursing (Well Child/Tamariki Ora) and supporting ongoing professional development within Plunket.

 

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