It was International Nurses Day on Sunday – an important date to mark the huge contributions nurses make to the world. On this occasion we’ve asked EIT’s Head of School of Nursing, Clare Buckley, the second in charge, Penny O’Connor and Māori nursing lecturer Tracey MacGregor why they became nurses, what they love about the profession and what nursing stereotypes they are actively fighting against.

Why did you become a nurse? 

Clare Buckley wants to change the antiquated way of looking at nursing as a job for caring women.

Clare: I couldn’t face another season of thinning and picking apples and peaches and I wanted a profession that could take me anywhere I wanted to go.

Penny: I wanted a professional career that would facilitate adventure while making a real difference.

Tracey: I saw nursing as a way to empower myself to effect change within the wider community, specifically for vulnerable populations such as indigenous people, children, people in poverty.

What are the qualities and characteristics every nurse should have?  

Clare: Empathy, problem solver and critical thinker, being non-judgmental, adaptability and listening skills.

Penny O’Connor loves the new career paths that arise with nursing as a foundation profession.

Penny: Curiosity, emotional intelligence, integrity, resilience, critical thinking ability and a great sense of humour.

Tracey: You have to like people, be prepared to feel uncomfortable and introspective at times as you will be triggered, be curious about how things work such as physical body and thought processes (science) and be prepared to be a warrior because nurses see a lot of inequity and are expected to advocate for people.

Could you describe the nursing occupation with three adjectives?

Clare: Diversified, rewarding, exciting.

Penny: Extraordinary people, research fanatics, adaptable.

Tracey: Interesting, challenging, transformative.

What are the most common misconceptions when it comes to the nursing?

Tracey MacGregor always wanted to make a difference for the community.

Clare: That it’s an easy job for nice girls who care!

Penny: That nurses are wannabe doctors, only work in hospitals/clinics and that learning ends when you graduate.

Tracey: That nurses are just the doctors’ handmaiden and martyr.

What’s the best thing about being a nurse?

Clare: Being a nurse.

Penny: The opportunity to make a difference, to learn, to take up new career paths that arise with nursing as a foundation profession.

Tracey: The power to influence people – that should be used for good!


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