Q&A with Shelley Frost

1 February 2013

Find out more about GPNZ chair SHELLEY FROST - her favourite movies, missing hands-on nursing and why she does her grocery shopping online.

Job Title: Executive Director (Nursing) and Chair, General Practice New Zealand (GPNZ), and Director of Nursing, Pegasus Health.

Q: Where and when did you train?

A: Christchurch Polytechnic, graduating 1978.

Q: Other qualifications/professional roles?

A: I have held many leadership and governance roles within a career focused in primary health care. My current roles include: board member of the Health Quality and Safety Commission; trustee of Partnership Health Canterbury PHO; deputy chair of Canterbury DHB Clinical Board; and member of Canterbury Clinical Network Alliance Leadership Team and the MOH Primary Care Nursing Sector Reference Group.

Q: When and/or why did you decide to become a nurse?

A: When I was around seven years old, my favourite uncle suffered from throat cancer and was hospitalised a lot. I was in awe of the wonderful nurses caring for him and decided then I would become a nurse. My school teachers tried to convince me to study medicine. However, I held fast to my plan and have never regretted it.

Q: What was your nursing career up to your current job?

A: I began my career in oncology at Auckland Hospital, followed by two years in London as an agency nurse. Returning to Christchurch, I sought a relieving role in general practice and have remained in the world of primary care ever since. In addition to clinical practice nursing roles, I was the inaugural postgraduate tutor in practice nursing and editor and owner of the NZ Practice Nurse and Primary Health Care NZ journals. I joined Pegasus Health in 1997 as nursing advisor, becoming director of nursing in 2002, and assumed the part-time GPNZ executive director (nursing) role in 2011.

Q: Share a moment when you felt particularly proud to be a nurse.

A: I am always proud to be a nurse and on a daily basis see my general practice colleagues making a difference to the individuals and families for whom they care. The events in Canterbury over recent years have highlighted the amazing commitment of nurses to care for others, putting the needs of their patients ahead of their own and their families’ time and time again. It has been humbling.

Whilst I no longer have a clinical load, I am proud to have led a number of developments to enhance the nursing contribution and influence within the health system, working in partnership with colleagues from medicine and other disciplines.

Q: So what is your current job all about?

A: I have two main roles – working three days a week in Christchurch in my role with Pegasus Health, a general practice network, and the remainder of the week in Wellington in my executive director of nursing role for GPNZ. GPNZ is the national network organisation, and I recently became chair after six years as deputy chair. Both roles are strategic leadership roles, ensuring the contribution of nursing is maximised, acknowledged, and valued.

Q: What do you love about your current job?

A: I love the variety inherent in the two leadership roles and the ability to make a difference at every level within the system – practice, organisational, regional, and national. Whilst I still miss direct patient contact, I enjoy the ability to influence the nursing contribution to care. I am an absolute believer in the multidisciplinary team and love the opportunity to work alongside leaders from other disciplines in a context of true professional respect.

Q: What are the bits you love least?

A: The commuting between Christchurch and Wellington can get a bit wearying at times, especially those long delays at Wellington airport on a Friday evening! As I noted earlier, I still do miss direct patient contact at times.

Q: Would you recommend your child/nephew/neighbour/grandchild to go into nursing?

A: I would absolutely recommend nursing as a career to those expressing an interest. There are exciting opportunities ahead as nursing continues to contribute much to patient care and the healthcare system as a whole. Care in the community is particularly dynamic at present, with growth in advanced nursing roles and blurring of professional boundaries enabling nurses to really make a difference.

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

A: Unfortunately I confess to having a less than ideal level of fitness at present and due to the ‘busyness’ inherent in holding a number of roles find it hard to achieve an appropriate work/life balance. I am probably not a good role model in that regard at all! I have a wonderfully supportive family and love spending time with them indulging our love of theatre, music, and wining and dining.

Q: Helping keep me sane, busy or on task outside of work are?

A: My family consists of my wonderful husband of 22 years, two children aged 21 and 19, and two dogs (Botox the English bulldog and Gucci the bichon). My son Taylor studies drama in London and my daughter Paris is studying communication and public relations at Massey.

Q: While waiting in the supermarket checkout queue, which magazine are you most likely to pick up to browse and why?

A: I try and avoid supermarket queues, preferring to shop online (I can do that late at night). However my magazine preference would definitely be fashion first, followed by food.

Q: What are four of your favourite movies of all time?

A:The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The English Patient, and The Notebook.