The year of the nurses and midwives – Pauline Sanders

The Yesar of the Nurses and Midwives -Pauline Sanders

1) What is your role as a Pacific Nurse?

My current role is the Nursing Director at Alliance Health Plus Trust (AH+).  AH+ is one of the seven Primary Healthcare Organisations in the metro Auckland region.

My role combines areas of operational, strategic and governance at a local, district, regional and national level.  In the forums I participate in I represent a nursing, sector and importantly a Pacific perspective.  

There are very few Pacific nurses in NZ and particularly at a senior leadership level. It is important that we have the career pathway from graduation to senior leadership levels across the sectors in health.

2) What was your role during the Covid 19 pandemic and how did this impact on Pacific families?

In the Covid-19 pandemic response, I assisted in the set-up of the Langimalie testing centre and remained the Operations Lead and assisted in the set-up and operations of the mobile Covid-19 service, both based in Panmure.

I also assisted in the set-up and support of the South Seas testing centre based in Ōtara.    

The impact on Pacific families was low in relation to the spread of the virus, which is excellent.  One of the key messages that was creating confusion was if you are sick then stay home. Many Pacific families interpreted this as health services are not available unless you are critical. This has been seen as late presentations at hospital for admissions. Examples of these are increased lower limb amputations and acute rheumatic fever since Level 4 lockdown. Now we are at Alert Level 1, it is imperative we expedite the support of our Pacific families with their health needs.    

However, the non-health related impacts have been seen – loss of employment, income and increase in stress, anxiety and mental health.  There Covid-19 recovery pathway will be essential for Pacific families over the coming months. This will have flow-on effects on health.

3) Why did you choose Nursing?

My choice into nursing was not for vocational reasons but more to start tertiary studies from sixth form.  While this wasn’t a desire from a young age, the move into nursing was the best choice for me.  Nursing offers a lot of variety in skills and settings, is a priority international profession, there is on-going post-graduate studies, transferrable skills into senior leadership roles.  Highly recommended profession! I have now been a Registered Nurse for 25 years.

4) What difference do you want to make in the career path that you are in?

The many hats I have in my role have given me leadership opportunities.  This is highlighted the need for Pacific representation in clinical and governance forums, particularly the forums where key decisions are made at a system level.

I would like to continue being part of system-level change as an active participant but also to open up pathways for other Pacific clinicians to engage.  The impact is stronger if we can work together and strategically place Pacific clinicians in these roles.  Part of this includes providing mentoring for on-going support for senior leadership across the health sector.