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UCOL Nursing Graduate Addressing Inequities In Health

By UCOL on Monday, 04 April 2022

Nicky Brizzell

Nicky Brizzell is inspiring her children and working hard to address inequalities in our health system.

The Palmerston North mother-of-two switched careers a few times before realising that nursing was her calling. Nicky kicked off her career as a hairdresser and grew to a point where she tutored students. In between living in London and moving back to Aotearoa, she worked as an Immigration Visa Officer and as a teacher’s aide. “I felt like changing my career all through those years but was never sure of what was right for me,” says Nicky.

In 2019, Nicky built up the courage to quit a good, paying job and ultimately pursued the Bachelor of Nursing degree at UCOL. “It’s a rewarding career, and I thought that my life experience would benefit such a role – working as a teacher’s aide, developing great listening skills as a hairdresser, having my own children, and growing up with a mum had a disability, therefore the hospital environment was familiar to me.”

Nicky enjoyed the support her lecturers provided but, most of all, gained a real insight into nursing during placements. As part of her learning, Nicky worked at the hospital, within a community GP setting, in aged care, and with two mental health service providers. 

“Placements are an essential part of a nursing degree. They allowed me to get a feel for the different areas of nursing that I could see myself working in, and it also fuelled my passion and desire to become a nurse, so I’m very thankful.”

While studying at UCOL, Nicky won the Graduate Women in Manawatū (2021) Scholarship. “I never imagined winning a scholarship in recognition of my achievements,” she says. “Most of all, I’m grateful to the lecturers who made my learning experience a positive one. They’d make regular visits and give time each week to sit down and talk about my progress.”

After gaining nursing registration in 2021, Nicky started working with MidCentral District Health Board under the New Entry into Specialty Practice programme. Her goal is to work in a supportive team, make positive changes, meet the needs, and wants of tangata whai ora (individual seeking health), and address inequities.

“I want to be a role model for my kids and assure them that changing careers at any age is absolutely normal.”

Nicky is among the 2236 students graduating across UCOL campuses. Due to the Traffic Light System, UCOL will be celebrating graduation a little differently this year. Students will be collecting their graduation parchments from UCOL campuses. They will get an opportunity to have a small celebration with their family and friends, including hiring graduation gowns and taking professional photographs. Graduation parchment collection days are as follows:

Horowhenua: Thursday, 25 March 2022
Wairarapa: Monday, 28 March 2022
Manawatū: Wednesday, 6 April 2022
Whanganui: Friday, 8 April 2022