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Pauline Olesen says she feels “proud” to serve as a nurse in Ngatea for 40 years. Photo: GORDON PREECE

Health Ngātea nurse Pauline Olesen pulses four decades

Community support has been the best medicine in Pauline Olesen’s 40-year nursing career in Ngātea.
The 71-year-old practice nurse at Health Ngātea told The Profile she felt “proud” to have worn a stethoscope and provide vaccinations, wound care, and medical advice to thousands of patients.
“It’s hard to believe really that this much time has gone by, but I feel quite proud that I’m still here and I’m very proud of our practice,” she said.
“I’ve got wonderful management and in the 40 years I’ve been here I’ve had fantastic bosses who are very considerate towards the nurses’ needs.

“The crux of the matter really is helping people… being a big part of our community and having familiarity with the people in Ngātea and the surrounding districts.”
Pauline said she scrubbed up the courage for a nursing shot as a teenager.
“I was brought up on a farm [in Ruawaro, west of Huntly] and animal husbandry was quite a big thing. I don’t know whether that persuaded me but [nursing] was something that I was keen to do,” she said.
“In those days when I was a young teenager, there were limited choices, you were either a nurse or a teacher, or worked at the bank or in retail, and nursing appealed to me.
“It helped that I had a friend who was going to nursing school as well.”
Pauline said she first donned her scrubs at Thames Hospital for her nursing training in 1969 as a 17-year-old.
“It was all hospital based in those days and we did block courses at school for three weeks every three months and we would spend that time in the nursing school,” she said.

“The rest of the time we were part of the workforce in the wards as junior nurses.”
Pauline said she worked in the profession at Thames Hospital for two years after she graduated in 1972 before hanging up her stethoscope for nine years to raise her children.
She stitched back her career in 1983 at Health Ngātea where she has practiced ever since.
“Forty years ago in practice nursing, nurses were probably pretty much the doctors assistants, but today nurses have got the skills to work to the top of our professional scope.”
Pauline said she’s not planning on hanging up her stethoscope anytime soon.
“While I’m still fit and able and enjoying the job, I’ll keep on until I don’t want to do it anymore, because I’m here, because I want to be here.”