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A move in to leadership with Skills Matter

Jacqui Hampton, Skills Matter project lead, sat down with Pippa Holland, mental health nurse consultant, to talk about her journey on the Skills Matter-funded Clinical Leadership in Nursing Practice programme with the University of Auckland.

Pippa Holland.

Skills Matter programme of learning: Master of Nursing, Research Portfolio entitled Suicide Prevention in Adult Community Mental Health Services – What are we Doing Right?

Mental Health Nurse Consultant.

Te Whatu Ora, Te Toka Tumai, Tāmaki Makaurau, Mental Health Services.

Ko wai au? - who am I and why is my role in mental health and addictions important to me?

Ko Pippa Holland toku ingoa, He kaitohotohu nēhi ahau kei Te Toka tumai, Kāhui o te Ihi.

I work as a nurse consultant at Kāhui o te Ihi, which is our new, recently gifted name. Previously we were known as Auckland Mental Health and Addiction Services. The new name means ‘A collective that lifts the ihi or positive vibrating energy of people so they are inspired to reach their full potential. For me, this name also reflects my role and why it is important to me. The role is varied and I'm involved in a number of initiatives, but first and foremost, it's a leadership role concerned with the mental health nursing workforce, which I am very passionate about. On a simple level, it's about attracting, retaining, supporting, developing and appreciating the nurses and the challenging mahi they do in our organisation so they can provide great care to whaiora. I am also fortunate to still work clinically one day a week in the liaison psychiatry team. I have worked as a mental health nurse in a variety of settings for 23 years and feel it's a privilege to work alongside people, hear their stories and hardships (which we all experience) and be able to support them with their wellbeing.

How and why did you decide on your chosen study programme?

I was supported to engage in tertiary study when I first commenced the nurse consultant role, as a new leader, I initially enrolled on the Nurse Leadership paper at the University of Auckland and have kept going since then! Most of my recent clinical roles have been in acute assessment and management so I've tended to complete assignments within this area of practice. I am also a member of the adverse event review group, which reviews the care provided to those suspected of suicide to learn and make system and process improvements. In considering suicide prevention work from a deficit position and hearing the impact of suicide on bereaved families and clinicians, I became interested in shifting the focus to more of a strengths-based stance, of understanding and identifying what is it that we are doing right, that is effective in preventing suicide. This is what has led me to my current master’s research question.

How applicable was the content and programme to your mahi?

I’ve found the University of Auckland papers really relevant and helpful within both my clinical and leadership roles. It's a great feeling when you are aware of the current research and data, and you can feel confident in providing care and being involved in projects etc. Knowing that what you are doing, teaching or promoting is in line and supported by evidence.

How did you keep yourself well throughout your study?

I really focused on good time management, I know I can’t leave things until the last minute, so I chip away most days. Even if it is brief, I was really disciplined at this. I would wake early most mornings and have 90 minutes to focus whilst the family were still asleep. This quiet time allowed for reflective thinking when I was cognitively fresh. Walking the dog most days enabled quiet reflective time as well, I would often have moments of real clarity and thoughts would come together when I was both exercising and being in nature. I also ensured dedicated time off from study, where I would spend time with friends and family, this was really important to me and planning around this enabled me to not feel guilty about periods of time away from study.

How supported did you feel during your time of study?

I have been well supported by my management and colleagues but particularly by my academic supervisors whilst completing my masters. I have felt so grateful for their support and feel very fortunate I had them allocated as my supervisors. I can't thank them enough for their academic wisdom, time and encouragement throughout my masters journey, which is just shy of two years.

Has this course made you consider doing further study?

Once I submit my masters I'll definitely be hanging up the study apron for some time. The light is at the end of the tunnel with my submission date being on the 31 August this year. Its certainly been a huge commitment. I'm looking forward to looking after myself and my family and having my weekends back, but you never say never, right!


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