Katie - Registered Nurse ICU

My Name is Katie, I am a Registered Nurse, ICU. I came to NZ on the 18 March, 2021 from California, USA. The process to come to NZ took me roughly 15 months.

The easiest part of the process was working with Accent Health. They really helped the job search as I had no clue what to look for or where to look. They helped with applications and made sure I was ready for an interview. The most challenging parts of the process were gathering and submitting all the documentation to New Zealand and the waiting!

My absolute first impression of NZ was HUMID! As my family and I got off the plane in Auckland, the humidity was a bit suffocating, but it improved as we went South. We got on another plane to Christchurch where we did MIQ. The weather was warm, tolerably humid, and the air was so clean and fresh. The other thing that struck me was how few sirens we were hearing compared to Los Angeles--and our MIQ hotel was near a big hospital! After getting out of MIQ and being in normal life, I was struck by how amazing the country really is. I'm surrounded by people who care about each other and the environment. As we've done some traveling, I'm in awe of the landscapes--the photos don't do it justice. I can finally see the stars at night again and it makes me so happy!

I’m finding the best parts of NZ to be the cafes, the kindness of strangers (we had 3 people we barely knew offer us furniture to borrow; that would never happen in the states!), and the scenery. People here are so critical of the way they help the environment; they feel they're not doing enough in the government, but the people here do so much more than anywhere else I've been. It's really inspiring, and I wish the rest of the world would take note.

I mostly miss family and Mexican food. Being from Southern California I was quite spoiled for a good Mexican meal! Make yourself a pros and cons list. Our "pros" list kept growing to leave our former situation and come here to NZ. I can't stress this enough! My husband and I had never been to NZ, but with all of our research and planning, we feel we knew just what to expect and aren't overly disappointed by anything (except the Mexican food).

Read as many blogs/info about NZ as you can--good and bad. Go on the websites for Countdown & New World and research the cost of the foods you usually buy in your home country. For example, a pint of blueberries was $11 NZD at Countdown, where I'm used to them being $2.50-$5 USD, even when imported! Really research where you want to be! It's not as cold here as in parts of Europe or the states, but the houses aren't as warm which makes it feel colder. Make sure you research homes and availability of those homes and anything else you can think of! Lastly, only bring things with you that you love (bring clothes etc, for sure). We did a shipping container with things we love as it's expensive here and takes a long time to get anything (unless maybe if you're in Auckland). We ordered a dining table and chairs in March and it arrived in July! That being said, the second-hand game is wonderful here! Lots of great items to be found in Hospice and Op Shops.

Questions about your new workplace:
Are there any major differences between your current role in NZ and your previous role in USA? There are some major differences between working here in NZ and working in California. For one, I was Progressive Care in the US (a soft ICU, but with some should've been ICU patients) where we had a ratio of 3:1. Here, in the equivalent of Progressive Care (HDU), we have 2:1 and in ICU we're 1:1--NZ is based on the British model of nursing/healthcare. I feel I can connect with my patients so much more, even though I serve more roles. E.g., I'm RN/EVS/RT/CNA. I clean the room when my patient is moved out. I am the respiratory therapist and provide my patients with nebulizers, I manage the vent, and I collaborate with the Intensive Care docs on the next steps. I draw up all of my own medications from ampules, reconstitute them, and I push most antibiotics rather than hanging them to run as a piggyback/secondary line. Paracetamol/acetaminophen is a miracle drug here, with much less use of narcotics (this isn't a statistic--just my opinion) than the states. The doctors have more time to teach here and they're more able to work at the bedside and communicate with families. We rotate days and nights which is tough, but it's more tolerable for this morning person than being on only nights! Overall, I feel I'm becoming a better nurse as I get back to the basics and learn how to operate here in NZ.

Are there any similarities that have helped you orientate/transition easily? As far as similarities go, nursing is nursing. I've been used to one culture of nursing practice for 8+ years, and now I'm learning not only how to be a proper ICU nurse, but also a completely new culture of nursing. The nursing sense of humour doesn't change, though!!!

Is there anything specifically done differently in NZ that has interested you and the way you practice your profession? SO MANY THINGS. I feel like I got my education (and let's face it: Do you learn anything in nursing school?) and then got thrown into the work and learning the hard way. In the US, educators are being cut and nurses are more frequently expected to learn on their own dime. Here, Clinical Nurse Specialists are utilized frequently as are Nurse Educators. They're happy to teach anything, point you in the right direction, set up simulations, and we rely on them greatly. Now, I'm at a teaching hospital so I don't know what the rest of the country looks like, but from my current perspective I'm much happier and calmer at work. Also, nurses running ventilators. I'm used to getting my hand slapped (not really, but figuratively) when I wanted to play with the ventilator--or even change the humidification bag!--I'm struggling with learning and managing vents, but I'm so happy to be learning it (although I do miss my amazing RTs).

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