Charlotte - ED Nurse from the U.S.A.
My name is Charlotte and I am an Emergency Department Registered Nurse.
I came to NZ in August, 2018 from the U.S. after a year-long process. It was really challenging dealing with my former nursing school, but I had expected getting my clinical hours converted into something understandable would be a laborious process, which it was.
Luckily, the job interview itself was the easy part. ACCENT (especially Hayley) prepared me well. My first impression of New Zealand was that the people are friendly and easy to get along with. The Northland is green and the weather awesome. If you are a gardener, you’ll love it here. I haven’t had a chance to spend much time outside of the northern part of the country, but Northland is a great place to live and work. The forests and beaches draw folks from all over the world for good reason.
There are numerous differences between my present position as a RN in the emergency department at Whangarei Hospital, the large base regional hospital in Northland, NZ and my prior position in the ED of a tiny rural critical access hospital in Northern California. There were far fewer patients, staff and resources in Quincy, CA, and most sick patients are shipped from the tiny ED. However, the sheer number and types of health complaints are very similar to what I encountered in the city of San Diego where I used to work. They treat pain differently here in NZ, however. It isn’t considered the fifth vital sign. Opioids are uncommonly given. My fellow nurses have never heard of Dilaudid. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are the most common medications given. That being said, my experience in the ED of a large hospital in San Diego prepared me easily for my present position. Sure there are a few differences, but for the most part the work is same.
I will say that my fellow workers here in NZ are from far more culturally diverse backgrounds than my former co-workers in the US, even in San Diego. I work with folks from every English-speaking country, plus more (!). It is a treat to learn from their past work experiences and travels. The other big difference is that as a nurse I am expected to be able to provide all the respiratory therapies. This something that was done by specially trained respiratory therapists in the US. I am still learning, but fortunately my co-workers are willing and great instructors.
Of course I miss my family and friends back in the States. I spend every conversation I have with them trying to convince each that the long flight is worth the visit. I think, in time, I will be successful.
If you are planning on coming to NZ, spend some time learning about Maori culture and some of the language. While most of the European Kiwi culture will seem immediately familiar to most folks, chances are the Maori culture will be pretty exotic, and since it is a vital part of main stream life, especially in Northland, it would be worth learning about. About half of my patients are Maori. Also save your pennies; just about everything is more expensive here. Having said that, people still get by easily. Second hand shops are popular.
Finally, environmentalism is important here. Recycling and protecting native species are considered important. It isn’t just something a few folks talk about. It is interlaced in everyday culture.