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Taumarunui nurse with a thirst for learning - Waikato DHB

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The combination of nursing and learning has been too strong a pull to resist for Taumarunui’s Helene Draper.

About 8 years ago, Helene Draper took a break from nursing. She had graduated as a nurse in 1992 and then spent more than 15 years nursing overseas, but when she came back to New Zealand in 2009 she wanted to try something different. So she and her husband bought a camping ground in the rural town of Taumarunui, two hours’ drive south of Hamilton, and back in the area where she was born and grew up.

After two years, the nursing bug bit again and in 2012 she took a job as a registered nurse (RN) working at the local Taumarunui Hospital. It was there that Helene was inspired by Jane Jeffcoat, who had joined the hospital in 2010 as a qualified nurse practitioner.

On 17 April 2019, Draper completed the journey to becoming a nurse practitioner herself, graduating from Massey University after completing the Masters programme and a successful panel interview by the Nursing Council in late 2018.

Nurse practitioners are expert nurses who work autonomously, have full prescribing rights, and are trusted to practice within their areas of competence and experience. It takes several years of post-graduate study to Masters level for a registered nurse to graduate as a nurse practitioner.

"I looked at Jane and all that knowledge she had in her head, and I really wanted it to be in mine," Draper says.

She describes her driving force as a thirst for learning. "I wanted to learn, wanted more knowledge." For that reason the four years of postgraduate study to become a nurse practitioner was never hard work - "it was a joy, with amazing ‘light bulb’ moments." And she recognises the incredible support of her husband during that time.

Draper believes it is an ideal time to become a nurse practitioner. "The ground has been broken, people now understand more about the role. It’s proved its usefulness and is welcomed."

Her role will include involvement in further developing the rural nursing workforce.

Draper also hopes to inspire other nurses to learn and develop, and perhaps to take the path to being a nurse practitioner themselves. "If they look at me and think - if she can do it, so can I - then that would be great."

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