Mother and daughter nurses, Dee and Sian Telfer gave us some of their precious time to explain their influences and how they got into nursing.
Name: Dee Telfer
What nursing role do you do? Operations Manager - Cancer & Blood Services, Faster Cancer Treatment (FCT) Lead & Radiation Oncology.
How long have you been working as a nurse? I graduated in December 1988
Who influenced you to become a nurse? At first, my mum who at the age of 8, told me I would be a good nurse because I like yakking to anyone and everyone. Then my Dad who died when I was 12 from a preventable illness. We cared for him at home as he was too scared to go to hospital as he believed (back then) that was where you go to die (he was transferred from home to CCU and subsequently died that night – he was 50 years old).
Where did you study? Northland Polytechnic - I think we were the fourth intake from transitioning hospital trained nurses to comprehensive trained nurses (Smurfs, as we were called back then).
Have you seen many changes in nursing since you graduated? Yes, lots of wonderful changes in nursing. And that is to be expected as times change, and so does nursing, especially in technology and improved science, etc. and we adapt very well to that.
What I see more so than changes in nursing is changes in nurses.
This is not a criticism of ‘in my days (I can hear a big sigh), but we were more disciplined and worked within very clear expectations of our role and how it aligns to others (when we call it a profession, it meant everything to us).
Then along comes the generational gap, the millennials and the Gen Y’s, and it’s a new ball game, and we (oldies) are now the audience. This is not a bad thing, but one we need to understand and adapt to as these nurses come through, because they will be looking after us, so it’s in our best interest to get on the bus and embrace it.
We have too many rigid, inflexible, and hierarchical intolerance structures that don’t fit into the new way of nurses’ psyche.
What’s going on around the world with the COVID-19 pandemic and pay equity has brought the importance of nurses to the forefront. We need to get into their heads - hear their voice and make some changes.
What further changes would you like to see in the future? Having reintroduced the Enrolled Nursing (EN) Programme back to Northland DHB in the acute settings, I would love for us to embrace this programme as one that really works for getting a foot in the nursing door. A lot of people want to go into nursing but see the bachelor’s course as out of reach. The 18-month EN programme is more realistic for them, and the scope/role is one that will benefit nearly all services. Services need to change their mindset of wanting more nursing resources without a renewed model of care. Also (as evidenced in the data), the EN programme attracts Māori because the programme is suited for what they want their nursing career to be - a more practical hands-on role, connecting with patients and tasks. Having more Māori in any nursing role caring for our people will make a positive difference in ensuring we deliver high-quality, culturally responsive health care services and for Māori and their whānau to feel culturally safe.
There must be no end of highlights in your career. Can you give us one that stands out? I have had the privilege of encouraging and supporting many Health Care Assistants/ENs to do the Bachelor of Nursing programme. All of them have become amazing nurses in some very important roles. But the highlight of my nursing career would be standing on stage as the Acting Director of Nursing at my daughter’s graduation and watching her receive her graduation certificate. It was the beginning of COVID-19, and we weren’t allowed to touch, hug or anything, but I was bursting at the bit to jump out and hug her. I had tears having a daughter follow in my steps and join the best profession there is in Nursing’.
Would you recommend nursing as a career path? Umm, duh…the only career path you will hear me bragging about.
Name: Sian Telfer
What nursing role do you do? I am a Paediatric Nurse in the amazing Ward 2 Department - simply the best ward, in my opinion.
How long have you been working as a nurse? I am in my third year of nursing since graduating in 2019.
Who influenced you to become a nurse? My mum influenced me to be a nurse. Growing up watching her being so dedicated to her job, telling us how much she enjoyed going to work, and the friendships she had made, made me want to have that as well. She is a hard worker and is well respected throughout the whole hospital, so I hope I can be half the nurse she is one day.
Where did you study? I studied at NorthTec in Raumanga and absolutely loved it. The tutors were really supportive, and I made some awesome friends.
Have you seen many changes in nursing since you graduated? When I first started as a new graduate nurse, COVID-19 had hit, so not only myself but my other junior colleagues had to step up very quickly. I feel this helped us grow as nurses and as leaders within our department. There have been constant changes in the past two and a half years with new policies and guidelines and nurses and staff having to adjust to the ever-changing COVID protocols, but I feel we have all stepped up, adjusted and continued to do our job at a high standard.
What further changes would you like to see in the future? I would love to see more passionate people come into nursing. We always need more staff. At the moment, it may seem that nursing is hard work and money isn’t great, but the rewards of caring for patients greatly outweigh all these reasons. I would also love to see more Māori nurses around the hospital. As a Māori nurse myself, it is a privilege when I get to look after our Māori whānau.
There must be no end of highlights in your career. Can you give us one that stands out? I have so many highlights. I work with the most amazing team so just turning up to work each shift and working alongside my colleagues is the greatest highlight. Other than that, it is simply looking after our precious pepi and being that small helping hand for them and their whānau in their time of need.
Would you recommend nursing as a career path? Yes, yes, yes, no doubt about it. The rewards easily outweigh the negatives. The friendships you make are lifelong, the skills you continuously learn are endless, and the smile you see on your patients' faces when you have helped them is priceless.