Q&A With Carolyn Reed

1 May 2012

Find out why Nursing Council CEO Carolyn Reed spends so much time mid-air over Cook Strait and how she likes to spend her Sundays.

Job Title: Chief Executive/Registrar, Nursing Council of New Zealand.

Q Where did you train?

A Nelson Hospital

Q Other qualifications/professional roles?

A Bachelor of Nursing with a double major in nursing and Education (Massey University) Master of Nursing (Victoria University) Thesis: The liminel space of anguish: The experience of two mothers whose children have acquired traumatic brain injury.

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

A I have no memory of ever wanting to be anything other than a nurse. I was single-minded. I have no idea where it came from as I am the only nurse in my family, although my mother was enlisted as a nurse aid during the war.

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

A I have loved every stage of my career. I nursed in medical, surgical, and orthopaedic settings prior to finding paediatrics. Working with children and their families was so humbling and rewarding. My career took on an unexpected turn into the arena of nursing education in the early 1980s. I was the Dean of Health and Social Sciences when I left in 2004 – I thought I was retiring – but here I am as Chief Executive/Registrar of the Nursing Council!

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

A Every day, I feel honoured to be part of our profession. I see, hear of, and meet the most amazing nurses. There are so many moments, but the ones that move me the most are the intimate moments of connection where one human being knows with certainty that the nurse is there for them.

Q Share your most embarrassing moment as a nurse?

A No way! Too embarrassing to share!

Q So what is your current job all about?

A I am employed by the Nursing Council – which has an exceptionally wise board chair (Dr Margaret Southwick) and a strong, talented, and effective board. Regulation is in good hands! Our broad mandate is to protect public safety. I work with nurses in all employed positions, the organisations that represent nurses and most importantly with the general public to achieve this.

Q What do you love about your current job?

A The people, the variety, the learning, the challenges, and the sense of making a difference.

Q What are the bits you love least?

A The sense of disappointment I feel when one nurse’s behaviour or actions let the profession down.

Q Have you ever wanted to give up nursing and why?

A Nursing defines me at a cellular level. I could never give it up. I am totally unable to separate “me” and “nurse”.

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

A I work in Wellington and live in Nelson – the Cook Strait helps me find balance. My weekends are spent with my family and friends. I walk daily, cycle on the weekends (on my ‘Mary Poppins’ bike!), and focus on eating well. My health and happiness are essential for me to do my job.

Q What is your favourite way to spend a Sunday?

A On the farm with extended family, surrounded by my grandson’s chooks, three dogs, and my daughter’s vegetable garden…. and did I mention my husband, Stu? I’m sure he didn’t have an inkling of where my career would take me when we married 42 years ago!

Q What is number one on your ‘bucket list’ of things to do?

A So many things left to do … right now, a mid-winter holiday in Awaroa. Ah, for some solitude and reconnection!

Q If I wasn’t a nurse I’d be…?

A Incomplete!