A once "rebellious" teenage mum and now passionate convert to rural outreach nursing says she is humbled to be the joint winner of the Young Nurse of the Year Award.
Rosita Richards, 28, of Ngāti Kahungunu and Whakatohea descent, was announced joint winner of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation award with Jed Montayre at an awards dinner in Wellington on 6 September.
The mobile outreach nurse working for a kaupapa Māori health provider said she was very humbled and honoured to win the award and hoped it helped inspire other young nurses in their work. She also advocated for nurses to step forward and nominate young nurses in their organisation, as she had been surprised and humbled just to be nominated by her preceptor, let alone be a joint winner of the trophy and an individual prize of $2,000.
"I do things back to front," said Richards. "I had a child at 16, pretty rebellious I guess, and then went on to have two more children." The single parent said she decided to study nursing to do something for herself and to make her children proud of their mother. She added she had great family support during her study at Waiariki Institute of Technology, which has continued since she started working full-time 18 months ago for the Hauraki Primary Health Organisation.
Tokoroa-based Richards joined the PHO's Manawanui Whai Ora Kaitiaki long-term conditions outreach programme on a new graduate programme.
Throughout her nursing degree all she wanted to do was to work in acute care, but after missing out on a hospital job she was offered the Hauraki position. She said the mobile outreach role was the kind of job in which you had to "hit the ground running" but she had a great preceptor and within two weeks she knew she was in the right job and that primary health was where she wanted and needed to be. "There's just a whole new world out there."
Richards said she spends the majority of her time on the road visiting clients in their homes and works closely with a kaiawhina (support worker) on supporting the whole wellbeing of clients and whānau and not just their physical health. "Sometimes I have to step back as a clinician to allow the kaiawhina to address the social issues first."
She also works three days a week as a practice nurse at Tokoroa Family Health which she said provided both continuity of care and made her realise the privileged insight she got into her patients' health by being able to visit them in their homes.
NZNO’s President Grant Brookes said the calibre of this year’s winners proved the future of nursing was in good hands. "They are outstanding role models, passionate about their profession and committed to improving the health of New Zealanders."
Award judges were the director of the Otago University’s Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies Philippa Seaton, last year’s award winner, West Coast rural nurse specialist Gemma Hutton, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Jane O’Malley, senior adviser in the CNO’s office Alison Hussey, NZNO President Grant Brookes and NZNO Kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku.
Runner-up in this year’s award is Emily Rushton, a health educator and climate change campaigner who is based in Auckland.