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Hawke’s Bay Couple Share Commitment to Nursing

June 17, 2009

Master of Nursing graduate Wendy Kennedy with husband Peter, who is studying for his master\’s degree at EIT Hawke\’s Bay.

A Hawke’s Bay couple are a shining example of a couple who share common goals.

Husband and wife, they work in the same profession and for the same employer. They agree about life-long learning, and balance study commitments with family life, their career roles and an interest in nursing and health care.

The couple met through nursing and returned to the profession after work stints in other areas. They are employed by the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board – Wendy is nurse coordinator while Peter has a hands-on nursing role as a member of the flight team, accompanying patients who are transported to other hospitals.

When she decided to do her Master of Nursing, she encouraged Peter to join her studying at EIT Hawke’s Bay – “I felt it would be easier if we could support one another”.

The couple graduated in March, with Wendy being awarded her Master of Nursing and Peter taking to the stage to accept his Postgraduate Diploma in Health Science.

Now, as he pursues his Master of Nursing through EIT, Wendy is taking a year’s rest from study while she considers doing a PhD.

Originally from Whangarei, Wendy was a high school student when her family relocated to Hawke’s Bay. After enrolled nurse training in Waipukurau, she moved to Mackay in northern Queensland for her registered nurse training.

It was there that she met Peter, an Australian who did his nurse training in Bundaberg. “He has a great Okker accent,” Wendy laughs, “and there’s no changing that.”

The couple worked in various hospitals in Australia before moving to New Zealand with their first-born child Callum.

Peter had accepted an IT job in Wellington, and was keen for Wendy, pregnant with their second son, to be close to her family. She went back nursing soon after Kane’s arrival, doing four weeks non-paid work in obstetrics to gain her New Zealand registration.

After taking time out for her youngsters, she worked for Capital and Coast District Health Board in the post-natal ward – “I felt I knew babies by then, and I enjoyed that the job was about wellness rather than illness”.

Wendy subsequently worked at Wellington’s Wakefield Hospital. When Peter took up a position as IT manager for the Hawke’s Bay Health Board, she left her job as coordinator of the cardiac ward and joined the board’s quality and risk management team, followed by a stint in the HR team.

“After gaining HT qualifications, I moved into my current role in mid-2004,” Wendy says of the nurse coordinator’s job, a position that draws on many of her skills.

Peter’s position, meanwhile, had been made redundant and he had gone back into nursing after a break from the profession.

“It was a big step, but he is firmly back in the clinical environment.”

The couple started at EIT doing the same paper – Advanced Clinical Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning. Their theses cover quite different ground, however – Wendy’s looked at whether nurses were utilising self-assessment and performance appraisals to inform their practice while Peter’s thesis-in-progress centres on aviation physiology.

Under pressure to maintain balance in their busy lives, the Kennedys found camping at Waimarama a great stress valve.

“Time management is essential when there are so many things in play,” Wendy points out. “To nurture family life, you need to find something that you all value as treasured time.”