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Master’s degree caps off long education journey

March 17, 2021

Lizzy Mackenzie found her calling as a nurse.

“I never had a hard-and-fast plan for my career but I was always open for new opportunities,” says Lizzy Mackenzie, one of EIT’s outstanding 2021 graduates. The 48-year old completed her Master of Nursing Science with distinction. Graduation will be the crowning moment of Lizzy’s remarkable educational journey.

The mother of two sons (26 and 20) grew up in Hawke’s Bay. She started her career in healthcare as an enrolled nurse at the Hawke’s Bay Hospital.

After she met her husband, the family shifted to Wellington first and later for her husband’s work to Gisborne, where Lizzy worked as an ambulance officer. “I really enjoyed the job but I felt that I didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life. I needed to plan ahead and also wanted to be a role model for my boys.”

So Lizzy took the plunge and enrolled in a Bachelor of Nursing degree. Finding the right balance between family life, study, practicums, and shift work was the biggest challenge, she says. “Fortunately, I had the full support of my husband and met some great and supportive people along the way.”

In 2012, Lizzy graduated with flying colours and was selected to deliver the graduation speech as a valedictorian.

With the degree under her belt, Lizzy transitioned from her final practicum at Three Rivers Medical straight into employment as a new graduate nurse. After two years working at the medical practice, she moved on and became a community nurse at Tūranga Health, an iwi health provider. In this role, she coordinated the Rheumatic Fever and Healthy Homes prevention programmes and led the community nurses team. “This work went so far beyond the tick-the-box stuff, and I loved it. Working with the people and in the community was meaningful and fulfilling.”

For Lizzy, nursing is a commitment to the well-being of our communities and whānau. “Essentially, it’s about promoting social justice, reducing health inequities, connecting with people, and bringing care to the people. It’s also the reason why I always enjoyed working in primary health,” she says.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Lizzy, once relocated back in Hawke’s Bay, started to work at Health Hawke’s Bay, a Hawke’s Bay Primary Health Organisation. Lizzy was always keen to share her knowledge and help others grow. So she started to work at EIT as a casual practicum lecturer, and when the opportunity arose to become an academic nursing lecturer, she jumped at it! Currently Lizzy is teaching in undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Lizzy says that the variety of tasks and the diversity of staff and students are the best things about working at EIT.

As to her Master’s studies, she admits that she had to become a little bit selfish, put her studies first, and learn to say “no” to people.

Asked about her plans for 2021, Lizzy says that she is looking forward to the graduation ceremony and her son’s wedding in April. Lizzy and her husband also share a passion for stand-up paddle boarding, and Lizzy enjoys cooking, baking and her Friday game of mahjong at the Taradale RSA. Also, it wouldn’t be Lizzy if she didn’t have a new goal. “This year, I finally want to learn pottery. I have always been living in the moment while continuing to improve myself. I’m also open to further study, but I’m not sure yet what this might look like.