Otago Polytechnic
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Helen uses skills she learnt through her nursing career, including disciplined thinking, good time management and observational skills as valuable to her business interests

Helen Darling
New Zealand Diploma in Enrolled Nursing (Level 5)

Dr Helen Darling is a 2017 Otago Polytechnic Distinguished Alumni.

Helen was a graduate of the School of Nursing in 1986 as an inaugural student in the Diploma of Nursing*.  She came back as a lecturer in 1998-1999.

Helen continued her studies and graduated with a PhD in Public Health from the Dunedin School of Medicine at the University of Otago.  She has founded two companies and continues working in the area of commercialisation of food integrity services.  She’s particularly interested in how technology can enhance global food supply chains.  Helen also has more than 20 years’ of experience in governance.

Helen is currently the Executive Director of Asia Pacific Centre for Food Integrity (APCFI).  This group was established to connect producers, science and technology providers and importers.  Their aim is to facilitate safe food exports and capitalise on available food safety expertise.

Helen’s PhD in Public Health provides an ideal platform for assessing food supply chains and applying a robust approach to the application of science solutions.  She was founder and CEO of Oritain Global Ltd (2007-2013) – a company that leads the globe in scientifically proving the origin of food.

Helen’s interest in governance sees her as an Advisory Board Member at Export NZ and a Director with the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd.  She was the Otago Daily Times Business Person of the Year in 2013 and a finalist in the Women of Influence Awards in 2014.

Linda Kinniburgh, Principal Lecturer, School of Nursing, says Helen is an amazing woman who started her career as a nurse and made the decision to continue her education.

“Helen uses skills she learnt through her nursing career, including disciplined thinking, good time management and observational skills as valuable to her business interests. She has chosen to remain in Dunedin although she spends time in the USA and China as part of her everyday reality.

The School of Nursing is incredibly proud of her achievements.”

*Now the New Zealand Diploma in Enrolled Nursing (Level 5).

Read about Nursing programmes on offer at Otago Polytechnic.

See the 2017 Otago Polytechnic Distinguished Alumni.

CORP event AlumniAwards2017JaneWilson 008 opt opt
Jane is highly respected and regarded in the Southern District Health Board, particularly for her communication style, her attention to detail and her willingness to work in collaborative roles.

Jane Wilson
Bachelor of Nursing

Jane Wilson is a 2017 Otago Polytechnic Distinguished Alumni.

Jane was a graduate of the School of Nursing in 1986 as an inaugural student in the Diploma of Nursing.  She went on to complete her Bachelor of Nursing at Otago Polytechnic in 1994.

Jane has an illustrious career in nursing, and a dedication to education as her career has progressed.  After completing her diploma’s graduate year at Dunedin Hospital, Jane went to London and worked as a Sick Children’s Nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital.

Jane returned to Dunedin in 1991 where she worked in Paediatrics, specialising in children’s oncology.  She was then appointed to Clinical Nurse Specialist and Educator roles.

For the next 12 years, Jane was a Charge Nurse Manager and a Service Leader, before being appointed as Nurse Director in 2010.  In this role, she managed and led teams of nurses in specialty areas such as Older Person’s health, Rehabilitation Services, Women’s and Children’s Public Health and Support.

In 2014, Jane was appointed to the Acting Director of Nursing, leading the directorship for nursing services, and in 2015, she was appointed as Implementation Manager in the Commissioner’s office.

Jane is recognised for her leadership in nursing at a clinical level, and leading and directing nursing services.  She is highly respected and regarded in the Southern District Health Board, particularly for her communication style, her attention to detail and her willingness to work in collaborative roles.

Read more about the Bachelor of Nursing at Otago Polytechnic.

More Nursing programmes.

See the 2017 Otago Polytechnic Distinguished Alumni.

Philip Balmer
Phillip has had more than 33 years of experience in the health sector with 20 years at Senior Management or executive level.

Phillip Balmer
New Zealand Diploma in Enrolled Nursing (Level 5)

Phillip Balmer is a 2017 Otago Polytechnic Distinguished Alumni.

Phillip was a graduate of the School of Nursing in 1986 as an inaugural student in the Diploma of Nursing*.

Phillip’s current role as Director Hospital Services at the Counties Manukau District Health Board, places him in the Executive Leadership Team which is the primary decision making body for the Health Board.  The team is responsible for the design and development of the strategic direction of the health system as well as ensuring that the organisation delivers on its objectives and key performance requirements.

Counties Manukau DHB employs more than 7000 staff and operates within a budget of 1.5 billion dollars.  Phillip’s role includes responsibility for 6000 staff and a budget of 750 million.

Phillip has worked in healthcare in six different countries over the course of his career.  Some of his positions and qualifications include:

  • 1997-1999 Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Management (Massey University)
  • 1989 Bachelor of Science in Physiology (Victoria University)
  • 2007-2008 Chief Operating Officer Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital
  • 2009-2013 Chief Operating Officer Bay of Plenty District Health Board

Phillip has had more than 33 years of experience in the health sector with 20 years at Senior Management or executive level.  He has spent 15 years involved with commissioning and redesigning healthcare facilities.

*Now the New Zealand Diploma in Enrolled Nursing (Level 5).

More Nursing programmes at Otago Polytechnic.

See all the 2017 Otago Polytechnic Distinguished Alumni.

NUR Georgia Rae Flack 001
The lecturers knew all of us by name, which was really lovely. They treated us like nurses right from day one and prepared us really well for the workforce

Georgia-Rae Flack – Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe & Waitaha
Bachelor of Nursing

Before Georgia-Rae started her Nursing degree, she completed the Certificate in Health (Level 4). “It was really helpful and showed me that nursing was really where I wanted to be. The certificate year taught us how to write academically, and showed us what tertiary study is before we started the degree.”

Georgia-Rae found the staff really helpful and were always keen to help. “They were amazing. They knew all of us by name, which was really lovely. They treated us like nurses right from day one and prepared us really well for the workforce.” Georgia-Rae enjoyed her degree and found it had the perfect balance of hands-on experience and academic learning.

“The nine-week transition placement in our third year was brilliant.  I was lucky enough to work in Neo-natal Intensive Care at Dunedin Hospital. I was even luckier to be offered a job there at the end of it!” Georgia-Rae’s iwi are Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe and Waitaha and she soon signed up for the Māori nurses forum – an online discussion to share thoughts, support and ideas.

“The Polytechnic was really supportive.  It helped me get to an Indigenous Nurses’ Conference in Auckland which was amazing”. Georgia-Rae’s now working her dream job at the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit. “I love it.  It’s such a great place to work, such a caring, nurturing environment.  It can be a tough time for families, but also a time of great joy”.

Read about the Bachelor of Nursing.

More Nursing programmes at Otago Polytechnic.

NUR profile AnnGutsell 002
Otago Polytechnic had the best graduate stats, post graduate stats, and employment stats. I was ecstatic when I was accepted

Ann Gutsell – Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga
Bachelor of Nursing

When Ann Gutsell started her nursing degree at Otago Polytechnic, she had very high expectations. “As an older student, it was important to get the best education I could get. I was living in Marlborough and researched all the schools.  Otago Polytechnic had the best graduate stats, post graduate stats, and employment stats. I was ecstatic when I was accepted”.

Ann believes she made the right decision. “The resources there are amazing, and there’s a really good mix of theoretical and practical.” She didn’t know anyone at the School of Nursing, but soon made friends. “The people you meet and study with, they become friends for life.” Three years later, and Ann is now working at Te Ara Hauora (Maori Liaison Services) at Dunedin Hospital.

“The lecturers at Otago Polytechnic taught us the reality of nursing and gave us the learning and foundations we need.  They introduced us to working nurses who’ve been doing the job for years.  That’s really important, so we knew what we were getting into.” Ann’s caring nature, her aptitude, and attitude make her a wonderful nurse.  These qualities were acknowledged at her graduation when she was awarded the inaugural Brittany Arthur Memorial Scholarship.  Brittany was a nursing student at Otago Polytechnic in 2016 when she succumbed to meningitis.  Ann, a mother herself, was very grateful for the acknowledgement.

“The fact that it was awarded by parents who’ve lost a child.  They don’t know how humbling that is”. Humble is the perfect word for Ann.  She smiles shyly as she exclaims “We’re not saints, we’re just humans with extra super skills!”

Read more about the Bachelor of Nursing at Otago Polytechnic.

More Nursing programmes at Otago Polytechnic.

GD
What excites me about this work is that it is often an area that is neglected due to shame and taboo. I strongly believe in human resilience and people’s ability to change and grow.

Genevieve Dally
Bachelor of Nursing

Genevieve Dally grew up in Wellington before moving to Melbourne with her family when she was 10.

Coming from a long line of nurses (five generations!) she knew that nursing is an extremely worthwhile occupation.

Genevieve chose Otago Polytechnic because it’s a “well-respected institute with a very practical approach” and has never regretted her decision.

“I found that the lecturers were so passionate. They encouraged us to strive for excellence and set our sights high and that’s exactly what I have done.

“I currently work for the Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Darwin. This is a service that offers forensic medical intervention, medical services and counselling to people that have experienced a recent or historical assault. I have worked in sexual health ever since my placement at the Dunedin Sexual Health Service in my final year of study.

“Since graduating my career has had a number of highlights. I produced a paper about the changes to the national Cervical Screening programme and the impact on women’s sexual and reproductive health. I spoke at two national conferences and received a new researcher’s prize from the Australian Society for Psychosocial Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society for my work. I also completed a Masters of Public Health and am currently undertaking a Masters of Business which I expect to complete in the next 12 months. Eventually I would like to be the Managing Director of a large sexual and reproductive health service.

“I feel honoured to have been given these opportunities and it would not have happened without undertaking my studies at Otago Polytechnic.”

GemmaHutton
I learn something new every single day and that started from day one of my nursing training.

Gemma Hutton
Bachelor of Nursing

Rural nurse specialist Gemma Hutton graduated from Otago Polytechnic in 2009 and worked at the Emergency Department at Dunedin Hospital, privately nursed in Wanaka and Queenstown Lakes District Hospital before joining the Franz Josef Health centre, the largest nurse led practise in South Westland.  

“I loved the nursing course at Otago Polytechnic, the lecturers were really supportive, the practical placements were really beneficial and it taught me great clinical and communication skills.

Gemma is based in Franz Josef where she is often on call 24 hours a day.

“Absolutely anything can land on your doorstep. One day it might be injured fishermen or a car accident but you still  have to run the regular clinics for long term conditions, mental health, public health, district nursing, ‘well child’ and sexual health. The job can be very demanding and even more so in the tourist season.”

In September Gemma was awarded The 2015 NZNO Young Nurse of Year.

“I was really surprised to win the award but it’s made me want to become more involved with the New Zealand Nursing Organisation and encourage young nursing graduates to stay in NZ.”

“I love working in rural nursing. It’s a privilege to have so much variety and it’s so rewarding.”

grace
It’s a safe, clean country with better education, better lifestyle and a better future for our daughter.

Grace Cham Ai Ling
New Zealand Diploma in Enrolled Nursing (Level 5)

Grace Cham Ai Ling, her husband Yin Suoh Lim and daughter Zoe came to New Zealand from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia three years ago for a family wedding, but following a month’s holiday around the South island, Grace and Yin decided New Zealand offered a better environment to study and a safer environment for their daughter.

“It’s so safe here. There’s a lot of crime in a big city like Kuala Lumpur, whenever we went shopping we had to hold Zoe’s hand because of fears of kidnapping, and we seldom took her to the park as there were dengue disease-carrying mosquitoes.”

Grace and Yin also wanted Zoe to have an internationally recognised education.

“We like the education here in New Zealand, it makes the children think outside the square. Back in Malaysia there was a lot of memorising, and it was very stressful for Zoe as she had so much homework even in pre-school, including spelling and dictation in three languages.”

Grace had always wanted to be a nurse but time and cost were stumbling blocks so she worked as a pharmaceutical representative in Kuala Lumpur instead. Applying to study for a career in health care was Grace’s dream come true and her entry into New Zealand.

“I chose to study at Otago Polytechnic because it’s famous for its education. When I found out I was accepted for the Diploma in Enrolled Nursing it was a new journey and a new life for the whole family. We know the three of us are going to have a better future here.”

NUR WhitneyHolmes
The best thing about a nursing career is there are no limits or restrictions to locations and settings.

Whitney Holmes - Ngati Kuri

Growing up Whitney always admired her grandmother and aunt for their work as registered nurses, and wanted to follow in their footsteps. But, after finishing high school Whitney felt she needed to have a gap year. That one gap year turned into several years but she never stopped thinking about applying for a nursing degree.

“I kept putting it off and then, one day after the Christmas rush was over, I thought it’s now or never, so I handed in my application and never looked back.”

Of Ngati Kuri descent, Whitney says she’d looked at other Polytechnics but chose Otago Polytechnic because it offered cultural support.

“The reputation of Otago Polytechnic and the nursing school stood out and I had whanau support to help me with my studies.”

Whitney completed the Certificate of Heath before studying for the Bachelor of Nursing.

“The Certificate of Health provided me with a pathway back into studying and set the standards and expectations required for the Bachelor of Nursing. For me, the best parts of the degree programme were the academic staff working in partnership with the students in clinical placements to ensure we had the best learning experience possible, the state of the art technology in the simulation laboratories, and the friends I made along the way.”

After graduating, Whitney relocated to Brisbane where she accepted a position working in a large aged care facility.

“The skills and knowledge gained within my Bachelor of Nursing programme enabled me to transition into working as a registered nurse in any area with confidence.  I now work in mental health where every day I learn and grow in my practice as a registered nurse.”

Photo credit: Mat Wiggins

Anna Watkins
I want to make sure healthcare is available to people that don’t have easy access to it.

Anna Watkins
Bachelor of Nursing

While most of us were recovering from Christmas overeating and enjoying the summer break, an Otago Polytechnic nursing student travelled to Nepal to investigate leprosy.

Anna Watkins is driven by her desire to help people, and there was no hesitation when the twenty-year old applied for a scholarship with Leprosy Mission NZ.

Anna and eight other youth advocates from around New Zealand stayed in Nepal for two weeks, observing the work being done there to care for people with leprosy.  Their mission now - to raise $30,000 for an X-ray machine at Leprosy Mission Nepal’s hospital, Anandaban Hospital.

Nepal wasn’t Anna’s first mission.  Two years ago, she helped at the Watoto Baby-home in Uganda.

“Mission work is very important to me.  I want to make sure healthcare is available to people that don’t have easy access to it.  I’m interested in continuing this work when I finish my degree, but I know I’ll need to consolidate my skills in New Zealand first”.

Originally from the Waikato, Anna chose to study in the south.

“It’s a long way to come and I miss home, but Otago Polytechnic has such a good reputation.”

She quickly made friends, and is now facing her third year of her Bachelor of Nursing.  She says the work placements are a great way to gain slow integration into the workforce.

“Our placement supervisors are always so surprised at how much we know.  I think the programme is well set up with a good balance between theory and practical.”

Anna also enjoys the technological approach to learning.

“We use a cloud-based learning platform, which means we can do independent study and practise.  It also means we can submit work while we’re on placement and get feedback as we go” she says. “There’s a lot of self-directed learning, and plenty of support along the way.  It’s perfect for what I want to do – take my nursing skills to places in the world that need them.”

Read more about the Bachelor of Nursing.

More on Nursing programmes.