Plunket nurse set to make a difference to local community

Karen Thurston Aug2018Plunket Nurse Karen Thurston is looking forward to providing even greater support to whānau in her community following her registration as a nurse practitioner. “It’s a very exciting time for Karen and the local community”, said Dr Jane O’Malley, Plunket’s Chief Nurse, in acknowledging Karen’s achievement.

Based in Ngaruawahia, Karen has been a Plunket nurse for 10 years, coming to Plunket as a new graduate. She currently works four days a week as a Plunket nurse and one day at the Teen Parent Unit at Fraser High School in Hamilton where she works with nurse practitioner Janice Wotton.

“I am really grateful for all the support I have received from everyone, including my family, Plunket and the local community,” said Karen who was also mentored through her study by the local doctor.

Karen says that as a nurse practitioner she will be able to better address an unmet need, as her work will be broader than that of a general Plunket nurse.

Nurse practitioners can work autonomously or collaboratively with other health professionals to promote health, prevent disease and improve access and population health outcomes for a specific patient group, according to the New Zealand Nursing Council.

“Karen’s scope of practice includes babies, children and women which means she can directly impact the outcomes of those most in need in her community”, says Dr O’Malley.

Karen highlighted that she has seen many changes in communities in her time as a nurse. “There is an increased level of need, and the disconnect between families and their community is leading to greater feelings of isolation and social anxiety.”

Karen completed her Masters degree at Massey University in Auckland and recently received the Margaret May-Blackwell Fellowship Travel and Study Scholarship from the NZ Nursing Organisation. “I will now be able to focus my attention on completing the report for this,” said Karen.

Plunket is committed to the education and support of its nursing workforce. It is funded by the Ministry of Health to deliver a Post Graduate (PG) Certificate in primary health care nursing, in partnership with Whitireia Polytechnic, to develop the Well Child Tamariki Ora nursing workforce on behalf of the country.

Plunket has over 498 registered nurses, 390 of whom have undertaken post-graduate study with 76 currently completing the PG certificate this year. “The potential to develop the nurse practitioner role within Plunket is something the organisation is definitely interested in exploring”, says Dr O’Malley.

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