Staff profiles

Kareen McLeod
Bowel screening clinical nurse specialist

Kareen will be a familiar face to many of us, returning to Taranaki after five years in Kaitaia. She’s now working with the project team preparing for the National Bowel Screening Programme roll out to Taranaki.

Tell us about your work
Part of my role is providing support and education to primary and secondary medical, nursing and administration staff on the bowel screening programme.

A large part of my work will be supporting the patient through their bowel screening journey if their bowel screening test comes back positive. This involves early contact with a phone pre-assessment to ensure they’re fit for their colonoscopy and finding the best time that suits them to come in and have the test. Involving the patient in the booking process has been proven to help reduce people not attending. I will also ring them to remind them and support them through the bowel preparation process ensuring they understand what to do and answer any concerns they may have. After they have had their colonoscopy I will either refer them back onto the bowel screening register or personally hand them over to cancer services.

Prior to and after going live I’ll be going out to community groups talking to them about the importance of the bowel screening programme and how it helps detect and treat bowel cancers early at a stage when it is often easily treated.

How long have you been a nurse?
I trained at Taranaki Polytechnic and first started at Taranaki DHB back in 1991 until 2015 when I left to go up North where I worked in the wonderful little hospital of Kaitaia for five years. Since first qualifying I've done all sorts of training including obtaining my Post Graduate Diploma in Health Science and becoming a NZRC Advanced Life Support Instructor.

What inspires you to go to work each day?
I love being back in Taranaki and being involved in a programme that will bring so much benefit to the health of our community. 

Career highlight?
I’ve appreciated all the experiences throughout my career that have made me the nurse I am today. My time in Kaitaia however will always hold my most memorable experiences especially the one where I, a midwife, and a couple of nurses saved the life of a young woman haemorrhaging after giving birth. It made me realise just how skilled our rural nurses have to be especially when other medical staff are not always available. I was very proud to work as part of that team.

Best thing about being a nurse?
It’s being able to advocate for our patients when often they are unable or are not confident enough to speak up and ask. Working alongside my patients is the part I am looking forward to the most within this role.

Influential healthcare professionals?
Yes! I worked with a wonderful nurse early on in my career called Janice. She always took the time to talk with and listen to her patients. She was a wonderful patient advocate and very supportive to me as a junior nurse. I have always looked up to her and tried to emulate her practice.

What’s next?
My plans for the future involve settling back into New Plymouth enjoying time with my friends and family and working hard to help make the bowel screening programme successful in Taranaki.


Last updated: Thursday, February 11, 2021

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