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Could Denice make it back to the clinic?

By UCOL on Wednesday, 09 March 2022

Denice Stock

Denice Stock had a wide experience as a nurse, but that was a decade ago. Could she make it as a nurse again?  

Denice’s nursing journey began at Manawatū Polytech, then for about 15 years wound its way around the Manawatū-Wanganui, including a spell overseas. Denice was an experienced professional who did everything from district nursing to theatre nursing. When family came along, Denice made the call to let nursing go. However, nursing had ways of calling her back.  

One family holiday, when they came upon a road accident with a medical emergency, Denice’s husband “volunteered” her to take charge. She did such a superb job that one of the onlookers, a nursing tutor, said that she should go back nursing. 

Denice enrolled in UCOL’s Certificate in Competency Assessment for Registered Nurses, and when she got the call to say that there was a placement for her, it all got very real. After ten years’ absence during which medicine had changed dramatically, Denice wondered if she was still capable.  She admitted, “It was nerve-wracking going in, like any new job, going into the unfamiliar. But, you know, it was great. Once I was in there and I got back into it, I was fine.”  

Denice found that she had not forgotten the basics of nursing, and that much of the course refreshed and updated what she had known before, such as codes of ethics, drug calculations, and so on. However, her biggest surprise was the support.

“I had an amazing preceptor nurse when I did my return-to-nursing placement at the rest home, and I had a fantastic preceptor nurse at City Doctors, but I’ve also had a great bunch of staff that I work with. They’ve been amazing in terms of encouragement, and I guess I’ve been lucky.”

Support like that began to rebuild Denice’s confidence in the quality of her work and in herself as a nurse. She completed her studies then gained a position as an Accident and Medical Nurse in a local clinic.  

“It’s a great feeling being able to feel worthwhile again, being employed. I still get a buzz out of the day when you know that you’ve looked after someone that wasn’t so well or okay, and you’ve sent them home in a better state of mind or physical ability.”

For people considering returning to nursing, Denice’s advice is, “Probably the biggest thing is to have a bit of confidence in yourself. It is really just, ‘You can do it.’  You can change dramatically if you want to. Have confidence in yourself to get back in there.”  

The Ministry of Health has launched a support fund to help New Zealand-based nurses who are not currently practising to return to a nursing role, in order to help grow the workforce to meet increased demand, support safe staffing, and improve access to care. Up to 200 returning nurses can apply for help with English language proficiency tests, administration fees, and other inpidual costs such as childcare, transport and uniforms. Current applications from the Ministry of Health website close on 14 March.  A second offering will open in May.  The website is www.health.govt.nz/our-work/nursing/developments-nursing/return-nursing-workforce-support-fund

Enrolments for the next intake of the Certificate in Competency Assessment for Registered Nurses close on 14 March. Contact UCOL on 0800 GO UCOL (0800 468 265), 06 952 7000, or at enquiry@ucol.ac.nz for more information.  

As for Denice, not only did she make it, but she is now helping others make it by being an amazing preceptor to nursing students. You could be one of them.