Birgitte - Registered Nurse

My name is Birgitte (most people call me Gita). I’m a theatre nurse. I came to New Zealand in May, 2022 from the United States. The process took me 10 months (I had to get my Bachelor of Nursing degree in order to practice in New Zealand, which I did at an accelerated pace online).

The easiest part of the process was the interview! I had one interview in my preferred location and was offered the position. The most challenging part of the process was dealing with CGFNS, the company that vetted my credentials. All credentials had to be sent via snail mail and the paperwork they require is painfully specific. It took several months for them to complete my application and forward it to New Zealand Nursing Council. Accent Health supported me every step of the way in this process. Prudence is my recruiter and there is no way I could have done this without her. She answered every email quickly, answered all my questions (probably the same ones multiple times), and calmed me down when I was freaking out!

My first impression of New Zealand was how clean it is. There is next to no litter in Hawkes Bay. I’m still amazed by this. Also, the calm. After spending 9 hours laid over in LAX airport, getting off the plane in Auckland was surreal. It was quiet and orderly. There is no feel of franticness here. I love how beautiful New Zealand is. The Kiwis take pride in their cities and towns. And I love how safe it is compared to the US.

I think we live in the most perfect climate in the world here in Hawkes Bay. We live in Napier, less than 1 mile from the beach! The air is so clean (which contributes to the intense sun because there is no pollution to break up the UV rays). There is virtually no smog here! The Hawkes Bay region is provincial, made up of wineries and orchards. Each little town (Napier, Hastings and Havelock North) have their own personalities.
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I could spend the rest of my life exploring New Zealand. We plan to visit everywhere! This summer we’re exploring a lot of the north island when my son gets here. Next year we’ll start exploring the South Island. I think New Zealand is the most stunning place in the world! Eventually we’ll venture to Australia, lol. And maybe Fiji.

What I miss the most is my son (he’s with his dad in the states but is coming in December for 3 weeks to visit). He is 16 and didn’t want to move and leave his friends. And I miss my friends.

If you want to come New Zealand, just do it! We live once. The move can be expensive, so plan accordingly. If you want a slower pace of life, free from gun violence (of course there are isolated incidents) and a place where children can have a childhood and not undergo active shooter drills (like my children did since 6 years of age), New Zealand is really that level of safe, in my opinion. If making a bunch of money is important, this is not the place. Work life balance is our priority. My husband and I can live as comfortably as we did in the states with our two incomes, but we won’t become wealthy. It’s expensive, but it also evens out.

The work/life balance is incredible. After experiencing Covid as a nurse in the US, I don’t think I would have stayed in the profession. We have at least 4 weeks of vacation here per year. I spend my weekends enjoying New Zealand, not just recovering from the work week like I did back in the states.

My role here as a theatre nurse is very different than it was in the US because here I’m being trained to scrub and assist! I have renewed energy for my profession. I work for a private hospital here, which offers me much more suitable hours for my lifestyle. I also don’t have to deal with traumas anymore, specifically gunshot wounds, which were constant at my old hospital.

The similarities that have made my transition easy are the equipment is mostly the same, and the theatre protocols are basically the same.

The relationships between doctors and nurses are much more team-oriented here in New Zealand. I feel valued and treated as a colleague. Doctors are addressed by their first names, and we share the same tea rooms. This was unheard of back in the states. There was always a level of elitism among the surgeons and a clear separation between nurses and doctors. Here, we work together.

Gita
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