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Nurse educators seek solutions to common problems through nets. nurse educators in the tertiary sector face a demanding agenda this year. Their association's new co-ordinator and spokesperson Kathy Holloway is undaunted.

It would be hard to find a more passionate and committed nurse educator in the country than Kathy Holloway, the new coordinator of the National Association of Nursing Educators in the Tertiary Sector (NETS). Holloway was appointed to the position last October, following the resignation of Jan Pearson. Holloway is well suited to her new role, having served as NETS central region representative for the past two years and working in nurse education for the past 14. She is currently programme reader for postgraduate nursing studies at Whitireia Community Polytechnic in Porirua. She graduated as a comprehensive nurse at Wellington Polytechnic in 1980 and completed a Masters of Health Science with distinction at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, Australia in 1998. Much of her clinical experience has been in intensive care, in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia. Holloway is assisted in the co-ordination of NETS by three regional co-ordinators: Heather Baker, northern, from the University of Auckland; Rachael Vernon, central, from the Eastern Institute of Technology; and Alison Dixon, southern, from Otago Polytechnic.

According to Holloway and NETS' own website (, the association's aims are fivefold:

* to maintain an active voice on national issues in nursing and health education;

* to develop an overall strategy for nursing and health education;

* to honour the Treaty of Waitangi commitments and the bicultural partnership;

* to work in partnership with practice colleagues, consumers, other health professionals and government agencies to develop and provide quality education in nursing and health studies; and

* to advance nursing practice and education through research and scholarship.

Members include heads of nursing (or their nominees) from nursing education providers, and registered nurses with leadership roles in nursing education, both undergraduate and postgraduate.

NETS also serves as a forum for information around nursing education; enables resources and strategies to be shared; and new heads of departments to be mentored.

"Nurse educators work in partnership with their clinical colleagues," Holloway explained. "The great satisfaction of working in education comes from helping students become the best nurses they can, and in this way, contributing to healthy outcomes for the New Zealand population. Combining teaching and nursing is a real privilege. Nurse educators are thinking, talking and reading about nursing all the time, as well as working with students in clinical settings. All these activities maintain our clinical connectedness."

Holloway anticipates NETS will have a demanding agenda this year. A briefing paper on major issues facing the association is currently being prepared. The funding of nursing programmes is a perennial issue, as is meeting student expectations for quality clinical placements and sufficient clinical hours. "It's not just about the number of hours; it's all about how students spend those hours and what support they are getting."

An increasingly pressing issue is the removal of the state final examination. Most nurse educators now agree it is redundant. It is not required under the Health Practitioners' Competency Assurance Act and the Nursing Council's own competencies for entering the nursing register--the end point of all nursing programmes--are quite sufficient for testing students' readiness to practise, Holloway believes. "All nursing programmes include quite rigorous assessments throughout the levels. As our programmes are now competency-based, testing students through a multi-choice examination at the end of the three-year programme is really quite irrelevant. Nursing Council audits all programmes and there are very clear standards about what needs to be included. Members intend having ongoing dialogue with Nursing Council on this issue, as it is the Council who administers the examination."

Other issues facing NETS include funding from the Tertiary Education Commission for nursing education; funding from the Clinical Training Agency for post-registration clinical training; the effects of performance-based research funding on nursing schools; the integration of nurse practitioners into the workforce; and the impact the district health boards' multi-employer collective agreement will have on the recruitment of people into nurse educator roles.

Members of NETS have adopted a strong model of consultation for their work. Holloway acts as the group's contact person, but only after an agreed position has been reached. Much of the consultation is done via email, with face-to-face national meetings three times a year, mostly in Wellington. The first meeting is in April, which includes discussions with NZNO's National Student Unit. The second is July; the third November. NETS also meets with a number of other bodies including the national nursing organisation, Nurse Executives of New Zealand, the Nursing Council and works closely with its sister organisation, Wharangi Ruamano, the Maori Nurse Educators collective who also have representation on NETS.

"Being the co-ordinator of NETS is a great way to get involved with the 'big picture' discussions. NETS enables members to be revitalised and refreshed as they share ideas and problems. The challenges we face are the same throughout the country. Sharing strategies and knowledge helps us find solutions and keeps our stress levels at manageable levels."

Holloway enjoyed being the spokesperson for last year's Campaign for the Future of Nursing, a Johnson and Johnson nursing recruitment initiative aimed particularly at school leavers. "It will be interesting to see whether this campaign, which had a reasonably high media profile, will translate into increased enrolments in nursing schools. It is hard to assess trends at this stage. Interest in enrolling in the Whitireia nursing school looks positive, but nurse educators are a little wary of making too many predictions this early in the year." Wary or not, Holloway looks forward to her own interaction with postgraduate certificate students this year and to grappling with the issues facing nurse educators throughout the country.
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Title Annotation:PROFILE
Author:Manchester, Anne
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Date:Feb 1, 2006
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