Otago Polytechnic
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.

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.”

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.”

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