Northland will have a home-grown advocate to speak up for health inequities when Northland DHB Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Margareth Broodkoorn, leaves the organisation to take on the Chief Nursing Officer role with the Ministry of Health next week.
Margareth has worked in Auckland and Northland across a variety of positions during her 30 year nursing career including clinical, educational and leadership roles. As she embarks on her most prominent role yet at the Ministry of Health, she knows this is something she is destined to do but does it with a heavy heart.
“It’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster over the last couple of months since I made the decision. I vowed when I finally returned to Te Tai Tokerau, that I would be home to stay.”
She never thought that she would ever go to Wellington, but was encouraged to consider the position by colleagues and felt like, so often during her career, when opportunities came up, she should walk the talk and do what needs to be done.
“If I’m not prepared to step up when one needs to, then I can’t expect others to. I have some confidence that there’s a destiny and I’m just following where my career is taking me. It’s important with nursing leadership in this country that we focus on homegrown development, and that’s what I have advocated for as the sponsor of the Ngā Manukura o Āpōpō (the national Māori nursing and midwifery workforce development programme). Putting our hands up when we think the time is right. And being able to say we’re here, we’re ready, willing and able.”
This new chapter in Margareth’s path has come after nine years as Director of Nursing and Midwifery for the Northland DHB, which she said has gone so fast and has been the longest role of her career.
At times when she was sitting at the Executive Leadership Team table, she had to pinch herself as it was a surreal experience to be sitting amongst such esteemed colleagues. After starting in 2010, she has grown to love the people that she works with and being back in Northland.
“Usually, once I’ve been in a role in for around three years, I get bored and have itchy feet. There hasn’t been time for that in this role. Every year brings a different challenge and new priorities that you need to deal with.”
During Margareth’s strong leadership several changes have been implemented within the Directorate.
Margareth championed the development of Te Taumata – the most senior nursing and midwifery leadership group in Northland, the nursing midwifery executive leadership team (NMELT) and further developed the Nursing and Midwifery Directorate.
“It has been a great honour to have worked alongside these amazing leaders who have given me the strength and confidence in what we do as nurses and midwives.
Having the right people around you is important to deliver on outcomes. I couldn’t have achieved what I have without these inspirational and innovative people. We had a vision that by 2020, Northland would have 15 nurse practitioners.
We’ve got 18 already, and we’ve got three or four in the wings ready to submit their portfolios. We also have nurse prescribers working in across a range of services to ensure timely access to services and prescriptions.”
The implementation of the Care Capacity Demand Management Programme (CCDM) is an extensive programme that she is immensely proud to have delivered on and one that the organisation is committed to.
“We’ve stuck with it. Northland has been recognised as early adopters and stars of the programme and one of the DHBs which have implemented a large component of the CCDM programme.”
The He Waka Kakaraui (a model for engaging Māori in Advance Care Planning (ACP) conversations) is another piece of work that Margareth said has been recognised nationally and internationally.
“This is a tool not just for Māori, but for everyone to utilise as a tohu, or a symbol and framework to start a conversation around ACP and end of life care. I’m really proud of that.”
The development of the Integrated Operation Centre (IOC) was a project that was a long time coming, and she feels confident to hand over to the Chief Operating Officer, where it will be in good hands.
During her farewell morning tea Northland DHB Chief Executive Dr Nick Chamberlain said the organisation has been lucky to have had Margareth for nine years. Like everyone else who spoke he commented that all of the achievements that she has successfully made for the organisation have been due to her leading with values, culture, training and knowledge. Several speakers reminded her that she carries with her a responsibility to be an advocate for both Northland and Māori in Wellington.
Margareth said there’s no manual for her new role. There will be a lot of work to be done particularly around connecting care around New Zealand and what nursing can do to contribute to improving health outcomes for the population, for Māori and addressing inequities within the health system.
“I’ll be learning a lot around the mechanics of the Ministry of Health and working in Wellington. That will be a steep learning curve. But I’m up for it.”
As part of her role as the Chief Nurse, she will have to step away from the groups that she has been part of to eliminate any potential conflicts of interests, but she said she would be present in a different way.
“I’m a bit sad that I’m not going to be part of the action and instead be on the periphery. The biggest thing I’ve got to learn is to be neutral, but be a strong advocate at the same time."
Margareth will be working alongside Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield who has reviewed the whole second tier of the Ministry, developing new roles and appointing new people to his team. One of her first opportunities is to work with a new set of colleagues who themselves will also be new so they can help each other out.
Margareth’s family will remain in Northland, and she will travel home as often as possible. She plans to give at least five years to the Chief Nursing position but says, “You can take the girl out of Northland, but you can’t take Northland out of the girl. Tai Tokerau is my home. I was born here, brought up in Auckland and always longed to come home. Sadly, I have to leave again momentarily in order to come home again. I’ve been humbled and flattered by what people have said over the last few weeks at all my leaving dos. But I will be back. My heart, family and postcode remain in Northland.”
Image: Margareth Broodkoorn