The reasons why so few Pasifika nurses are in leadership roles prompted a recent research project by a Pacific nurse leader in how to grow and develop more Pasifika nurse leaders.
Pauline Fuimaono Sanders-Telfer, the Nurse Leader for Auckland-based the Alliance Health Plus primary health organisation recently received her Master’s in Professional Practice (Leadership) for her leadership research.
Her research was prompted by wanting to know why there were so few Pasifika nurse leaders – particularly in her own area of primary healthcare. She said more Pasifika nurses has been identified as a key enable to improving Pacific health outcomes but there were very few formal nurse leadership roles in primary health care, and variable access to nurse leadership development, which impacted on the number of Pasifika nurses. Currently Pacific nurses make up about three per cent of nurses compared to Pacific people making up about seven per cent of the population.
Sanders-Telfer used the Talanoa interview method to interview Pasifika nurses with the findings highlighting that nurses’ life priorities significantly impacted on their participation in leadership roles. She said her research also found fundamental differences between the Western and Pacific view of how leaders were selected which also impacted on leadership participation; coupled with the variable support from the nurses’ employers and a lack of confidence in their own leadership skills and experience.
The lack of research literature into Pasifika nursing leadership also became clear. “My research was challenging due to minimal literature in my area of focus. This highlighted the need for more Pacific leadership research in nursing and health in general”.
“As Pasifika people, we can improve the health of our community,” said Sanders-Telfer. “We need to be part of the decision making conversations otherwise, someone who thinks they know our community will do it for us. As Pasifika women who are healthcare workers, we need to use our expertise and opportunities to provide quality care, at all levels of the health system, for our community. My journey has started, come and join me”.
Her research project was supported by the Aniva Pacific Nurse Leadership Programme, Whitireia school of nursing, Alliance Health Plus and the Ministry of Health.