Chelsea - Wisconsin, U.S.A, to Nelson, New Zealand
Hi there! My name is Chelsea and I am a Registered Nurse working at Nelson Hospital in the ICU on a fixed term, 1 year contract. I came to New Zealand in December 2019 from the United States (specifically Wisconsin). The process to get over here wasn't too bad. It took me 3 months to get my nursing registration and then maybe another 3 months to land a job/visa. To me, the hardest part was the registration process and specifically working with my College of Nursing and getting the course descriptions/syllabi sent to NZ, directly from the college. Apparently, the NZ Nursing Council is making the process easier than what it was though. The easiest part was landing a job. Kristin, my recruiter with ACCENT, was amazing at finding me a job in an area where I would thrive most. I was pretty picky in that I told her I wasn't interested in big cities, preferred the South Island and near the mountains. Kristen never stopped looking for the "perfect fit" job and put up with my constant e-mails bugging her lol. She was very good at following up and providing me with timeframes on when I should hear from her. If you are interested in working as a nurse in NZ but are overwhelmed by the process, do not let that stop you. I promise you that it is so worth it. ACCENT is an amazing resource and will help you every step of the way!
My first impressions of NZ was that is was BEAUTIFUL, people were super friendly and welcoming, and the roads were narrow/difficult to navigate due to learning to drive on the "wrong side of the road." LOL. Best part of NZ? Gosh, that's so hard..... There is so much that is great about this country, but I guess one of the things that I love the most would have to be the wonderful people and "laid back" vibe. Also the terrain is so diverse and there is so much to do here. One minute you could be driving through a green, mountainous area, and the next a desert or coastline! There are tons of outdoor activities and the national parks are FREE and very well maintained compared to some in the states.
What do I miss most? Definitely my family and a white Christmas. This is my 2nd Christmas in warm weather and without snow and family, and it never really feels like "Christmas" without those 2 things. But, thanks to technology these days, staying in touch is fairly easy with video chat and social media.
There are quite a few differences that I have noticed while working as a nurse here, compared to the states. Some of these differences include: 8 hour shifts instead of 12, different terminology for things, different medication names, paper charting and no medication dispensing system, no respiratory therapists, and having to double check all IV medications with another nurse. I've also noticed that I'm not as burnt out at work and they take their "tea breaks" and lunch breaks very seriously, which I appreciate! You will also accumulate vacation days much faster here (4 weeks/year and extra vacation days for working holidays and overtime). Although there are quite a few differences compared to what I am used to back home, it isn't a bad thing and I'm hoping it will make me a more well-rounded nurse. It is very interesting to work in another country, learn about another culture and their healthcare system, and adapt that to my practice.
New Zealand is a beautiful, safe country and I would 100% recommend working here to anyone!