Taima Campbell: Time for a change

1 May 2012

FIONA CASSIE talks to former Auckland District Health executive director of nursing Taima Campbell about her decade at the helm, Māori workforce development and her plans for the future.

Taima Campbell says her husband’s told her she’s allowed to do the things she likes best in her next “jobs”.

“So they will be things related to the nursing profession, Māori workforce development, and tobacco control,” says the former executive director of nursing for Auckland District Health Board (ADHB). Also on her “list” is “fixing” tertiary education to see more Māori and Pacific students successfully complete their undergraduate health training.

Campbell left ADHB at the end of April (see www.nursingreview.co.nz News Feed April 4) after a decade in the board’s top nursing job, where 12-hour days were the norm.

She’s stepped straight into a new role as a part-time senior teaching fellow at the University of Auckland and as a part-time student at the same institution studying towards a postgraduate business diploma in Māori development. She has also launched her own consultancy business, Hauraki Health Consulting Ltd.

Māori workforce development is a key focus for Campbell, who continues on as a member of the advisory group for the Māori nursing and midwifery development programme Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō (that she formerly chaired) and as co-chair (Māori caucus) of the College of Nurses Aotearoa.

“Part of the reason I’ve always done this job (ADHB director of nursing) is to look at what I could do better of differently for Māori workforce development. That’s been a major driver for me.”

Campbell came to ADHB as associate director of nursing (Māori) back in September 2001, but within a year, she had stepped into the director of nursing role. Amongst the things she is most proud of in her time – which includes investing in senior nurse education and the growth of nurse specialist and NP roles – is supporting growth in Māori nurse leadership.

Alongside that has been the board’s scholarships and Rangatahi programme to mentor Maori and Pacific secondary school students into a health career.

“Fixing” tertiary education

Campbell says she has reiterated over the last decade that the problem largely for Māori and Pacific workforce development is getting the supply. Which starts with ensuring secondary students get the right career guidance to take the right subjects and get the right support so they can enter undergraduate programmes. The Rangatahi programme supports that role, but the other step is to help students successfully graduate from undergraduate programmes so boards can employ them.

“Because we are here ready and waiting... we don’t really have the ability to influence what happens at the tertiary education provider level the way I think we should do. That’s where the problem is.”

She says, on the one hand, the sector needed to look at what it could do better or differently to see more Māori and Pacific undergraduate health students succeed.

“At the same time, we want them to retain those qualities that make them unique in terms of being Māori or Pacific. We want people who have that cultural confidence – those networks, relationships, and abilities… that kind of quality. That’s what eventually makes the difference in terms of better patient care.”

“One of my thoughts is I might need to fix tertiary education. It’s on my list,” laughs Campbell.

Another highlight of her time at ADHB is the investment paid in senior nurse education that sees the Board now have a large number of master’s degree-prepared nurses.

“We now see the benefits of having senior nursing roles within the teams that are making a difference and providing better care and more people aspiring to work in a similar way.”

Examples are NPs or nurse specialists working at the front of both its emergency departments – general and Starship.

Tobacco control

Campbell is also proud of her legacy in the area of tobacco control, including making headlines with her proposal that the ADHB adopt a policy of hiring non-smokers.

“I’ve been reasonably vocal and noisy around what I think needs to be done better or differently to reduce the tobacco-related harm in this country. That won’t change,” says Campbell. “I might just do it through a different avenue.”

“If we’re looking at how can we improve Māori health, the biggest factor that we could change that would make a substantial improvement in Māori health would be reducing tobacco consumption and tobacco related harm. No doubt about it.”

Asked if she has any advice to share to up-and-coming directors of nursing, she says it important to have a good understanding of your own underlying values and principles.

“There’s also absolutely no way you can do the job unless you are very good in terms of relationships – able to work and collaborate with others. You cannot be successful on your own. You have to do it with other people.

“The bottom line is that (your role) has to be about how people are going to be better off.”

This applies to more than just hospital patients.

“It’s very easy to forget it’s not just about people who come into hospital because they are sick. It’s also about how do we keep people well, so you need to think about that on a population level.”

She says she is going to miss the people and the ability to create change that the director of nursing role brought, but she won’t miss the boring meetings and the long hours.

Neither will her husband and family. She is looking forward to being more of a hands-on grandmother when her second grandchild is born later this year – particularly as her daughter, daughter’s husband, and first grandchild already live in the family home, along with her two other adult children.

“So we have three generations in the one house, which I enjoy – it’s nice to have everybody there.”

She is looking forward to being home more often to enjoy them.