The chance to teach nursing students to become culturally competent healthcare professionals inspired DONNA FOXALL to swap working in primary healthcare for a career in nurse education.
Name: Donna Foxall (Tainui/Taranaki)
Job title: Senior nursing lecturer/kaitiaki o nga tauira Māori tauira at Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT)/Te Aho a Māui
Nursing and other qualifications:
- Enrolled Nurse 1991 (Hawke’s Bay Hospital)
- Diploma of Nursing 1995 (Hawke’s Bay Polytechnic – now EIT)
- Bachelor of Nursing 2000 (Hawke’s Bay Polytechnic – now EIT)
- Diploma of Adult Education 2009 (EIT)
- Master of Nursing 2015 (EIT)
I am an executive member and the co-chair of Nursing Education in Tertiary Sector (NETS), the national chair of Wharangi Ruamano (Māori Nurse Educators), a member of Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō Leadership Group, and kaitiaki for Māori nursing student support.
Briefly describe your initial five years as an RN.
My journey into nursing began at Hawke’s Bay Hospital in the 1990s, where I trained as an enrolled nurse before doing my RN training at Hawke’s Bay Polytechnic (now EIT) in the mid-1990s. I worked in mental health and considered forensic mental health nursing, but instead moved into primary health care, where I worked as an extension of general practice into the community as a vaccinator and specialist respiratory nurse for the local independent practitioners association before pursuing my career in education.
Did you have a career plan (vague or definite) on becoming an RN?
My very early days in caring began at the age of three. Mum tells me I was always worrying when someone hurt themselves and I was forever playing the family nurse.
My career in health began as an enrolled nursing student at the age of 24. I was the young mum of an eight-year-old child at the time and balancing my whānau and cultural responsibilities, plus my studies and shift work, was challenging. With great support from my teachers I was able to complete assessments and clinical practice with confidence and graduate. This experience helped to make me the teacher and beacon of change that I am today.
What led you into your current field or speciality?
Working in the community highlighted to me the multiple healthcare inequalities of the time. So when the opportunity to become a teacher arose I was inspired to teach nursing students to become culturally competent healthcare professionals.
Being able to integrate Māori world views and kawa whakaruruhau (cultural safety) into nursing education and into clinical nursing practice continues to be one of my objectives.
I am passionate about sharing and promoting te ao Māori (Māori world views) in order to help create a better awareness and acceptance of other cultures in our diverse society. My inspiration came from leaders such as the late Akenehi Hei, whaea Putiputi O’Brien and Irihapeti Ramsden.
Moe mai e kuia ma moe mai moe mai ra. Rest in peace.
What qualifications, skills or stepping stone jobs do you think were particularly helpful and/or necessary in reaching your current role?
Life skills and feedback from families during my primary healthcare nursing days influenced me when I moved into tertiary education. On entering the tertiary sector I also had to complete my Diploma in Adult Education and Master of Nursing as professional development.
What personal characteristics do you believe are particularly important for nurses working in your role?
Teachers have to exhibit a range of skills. Working in a team environment and demonstrating responsiveness to student needs; role modelling integrity, innovation, ambition, reliability, initiative, a positive attitude, assertiveness, leadership, enthusiasm, and a good dose of humour are vital in this role. These are all characteristics of a good nurse.
A passion to share knowledge and facilitate learning is fundamental. Effective communication skills with a diverse range of people is essential, as well as a sound understanding of nursing education in the tertiary sector. Strong administration, organisation and IT skills are equally important.
What career advice would you give to nurses seeking a similar role to yours?
- Have a passion to improve the health and wellbeing of Māori – it’s crucial.
- Understand disparities for Māori.
- Support your role by understanding te ao Māori (Māori world views) and tikanga (knowledge of Māori practices and protocols).
- Create opportunities to meet the head of school and Wharangi Ruamano member at your local nursing school for teaching opportunities in tertiary teaching.
- Complement this opportunity by utilising your clinical expertise and knowledge as a guest speaker to undergraduate or postgraduate students.
Describe your current role and responsibilities.
The roles and responsibilities as kaitiaki (Māori nursing student support person) and senior nursing lecturer also include providing pastoral, cultural, academic and clinical support. Being responsive to student needs is a priority in my role, alongside supporting my work colleagues within the School of Nursing.