Nursing practice experience in Hawke’s Bay hospitals has shaped final-year degree student Nayda Heays’ ambition to work in an acute nursing setting like intensive care.
When she launched into studies at EIT in her late thirties, Nayda says she wanted to save the world.
“Applying for scholarships, I stressed that I wanted to look at working in areas that addressed inequality and disparities in health services. Doing practicums opened my eyes. I still have the same passion, but in reality I know getting there is much harder than I imagined.”
Working in intensive care, Nayda noticed many of the patients were Maori.
“A lot of admissions are from isolated communities and these patients may not be able to verbalise what they want. As nurses, you have to pick on these cues, breaking down barriers in health care.”
Nayda’s parents are Tuhoe, and her family has lived in Napier since she was six. “It feels like home to me,” she says of Hawke’s Bay. After leaving Napier Girls’ High School, she worked for several years as a law clerk before travelling overseas.
Returning home, she met her future husband, Andrew Heays. The couple have two daughters, Grace, 15, and 11-year-old Phoebe.
It was working part-time as a community health worker and then full-time as a community services manager in Rotorua that stirred Nayda’s interest in helping those struggling with health care issues.
Her mother, Florence Coffin, started nurse training and raised four children before going back to a caregiving position in a Hastings rest home where she continues to work in her seventies. Nayda says achieving her degree is as much for her mother as for herself.
While looking forward to finishing her studies in July, she will miss her lecturers and classmates.
“EIT does feel a bit like another home. I’ve forged amazing relationships here and felt sad on the last days of lectures.”
Assistant Head of School Jennifer Roberts says Nayda has been an exemplary student, supporting classmates – particularly Maori students. Last year, she secured funding which allowed her and fellow students to attend the Maori Council of Nurses’ annual student nurses hui in Nelson.
“After my last clinical placement in coronary care, the next step is the transition into practice,” Nayda says. “I’m excited about the placement as it will consolidate my learning. It’s the light bulb moment when it doesn’t seem so hard anymore.”
Later this month she will be awarded the Rotary Club of Taradale’s annual EIT Award for Excellence. Nayda also gained three scholarships while at EIT and she serves as treasurer for Te Roopu Take Take, a Maori Bachelor of Nursing student-led support group.
A team swimmer for Ironmaori, she competes in the half and quarter Ironman. This year, she will be cycling for the event, while Andrew will do the running and Grace the swimming.
“I’m in the drink with Grace as I’m teaching her how to swim in her wet suit. It will be a 45km cycling stint. I don’t know that I’m built for that,” she laughs.