Nurses Going Back To What They Love

11 May 2010

Former nurses are rediscovering their passion working in health and returning to the workforce in droves thanks to Taranaki DHB’s Nursing Reconnect Programme.

More than 70 nurses have undertaken the programme since it started in 2007.

Two nurses who took advantage of the programme last year have found their niche and can’t believe their good fortune.

Delwyn Houston (49) had been away from nursing for nine years. After diverse experiences from running a motel and a beauty therapy clinic, she still had nursing in her blood. “It was always in the back of my mind to retrain and Taranaki DHB offered me the perfect opportunity,” she said.

The Nursing Reconnect Programme is a Nursing Council of New Zealand approved competence assessment programme for enrolled and registered nurses.  It takes 6-12 weeks to complete with nurses being matched to a senior nurse for their clinical placements.

Delwyn had previous experience working in Middlemore Hospital’s rehabilitation and surgical wards. But after completing the course she decided to look at different options and is now working at Chalmers Rest Home.

“I was used to patients coming in and moving out quickly but in the rest home I get to know the residents, listen to their stories and learn about their lives. I feel privileged,” said Mrs Houston.

Nurse Helen Leppard also successfully completed the programme and is working in Ward 3 at Taranaki Base Hospital. “It’s like a dream. It’s what I wanted to do and the nursing reconnect course gave me the confidence.”

During the nine years Mrs Leppard was out of nursing she had stints owning and running the Copper Kettle Café in Waitara, and as matron at NPGHS Scotland’s Hostel. She said the course was amazing. “It gives you that ‘you can do it’ feeling. It reaffirms that you do have the skills, you do have the knowledge. Reconnect coordinator Glenda Butturini instilled that confidence in us.”

She said working as a nurse again was scary and she still had to check herself.  “There is different equipment and procedures but your instincts are still the same and patient’s needs are still the same,” she said.

Mrs Leppard said patients seemed to be sicker in hospital now as the simple health problems were dealt with in the community.

“The best change in the wards is there is much more of a team approach, between doctors, pharmacists, specialist nurses and nurses. In the old days a nurse would never speak to a consultant – those days have gone, and it is a much better atmosphere,” she said.

Both nurses said they enjoyed a change while bringing up their families, but the DHB programme was the nudge they needed to remember how passionate they were about nursing.

International Nurses day is on 12 May. Delwyn and Helen will be available for a photo on Tuesday, 11 May at 3.30at Taranaki Base. Please call me if you would like a photo.

For more information please call

Sue Carrington
Taranaki DHB
Media Adviser
PH 021 367 789


Last updated: Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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