Everything gained in nursing graduate’s pursuit of knowledge

Thursday 24 August 2023

Since completing her Bachelor of Nursing in 2018, Julia Wilson-Orr, Ngāi Tahu, has extended her academic journey twice over to better strengthen her clinical skills and to embrace her passion for research.

Last updated: Friday 3 November 2023

Julia graduated earlier this year with a Master of Nursing which she studied for while undertaking shift work four days a week at Te Whatu Ora as a Registered Nurse in oncology and acute care. While her main motivation for returning to study was the opportunity to advance her knowledge and level of care to patients and whānau, Julia says she was also excited to return to Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University because of her interest in research.

“I had no idea where my Master of Nursing would take me when I started it. I began thinking that the knowledge I would gain would be useful in my job at the time and that I’d have a chance to explore research in this space as I know the impact it has on healthcare services. As I developed through the course, so did my opportunities and confidence.”

During her final year, Julia embarked on a research project which looked at complementary therapies for older adults experiencing osteoarthritic pain. She says it was a chance for her to explore an issue she’d commonly encountered in her patients.

“One of the big things I saw in practice was the consequences of polypharmacy (simultaneous use of multiple medicines in a patient) on our older adults which made me want to investigate alternatives to mainstream pharmacological pain relief. I found mind-body interventions such as aqua therapy and chair yoga not only improved the pain participants experienced, but also improved their taha wairua (spiritual) and taha hinengaro (emotional and mental) wellbeing through social connections and community.”

Throughout her studies, Julia received a scholarship from Oceania for her research around older adults and credits their support and vision for the project which she hopes to publish soon. She also received health practitioner workforce funding through Te Whatu Ora to go toward her papers, and Nurse Practitioner Training Programme funding through the Health Workforce funding stream.

Reflecting on her master’s journey, Julia says it taught her that nothing is ever lost in the pursuit of knowledge.

“My master’s taught me the skills to critically reflect on the healthcare system within which I work, and the ability to constructively contribute to building a system that better meets the needs of patients and whānau. It inspired me to participate in leadership and growing our services so we can best meet the needs of tangata whenua and the whole population of Aotearoa. I really enjoyed applying what I was learning and seeing the positive patient outcomes which resulted from it.”

The 26-year-old is now studying a Postgraduate Certificate in Nursing to train and qualify as a Nurse Practitioner (NP). Julia says she’s proud of how far she’s come.

“I’m most proud of the difference I get to make in my community. After this year, I hope to further consolidate my knowledge as a NP within palliative care and lead further research in this space. I am privileged to awhi (to care for, nuture) patients and whānau towards mauri ora using advanced clinical knowledge within a holistic and Mātauranga Māori centred framework.”

Julia says it was a commitment continuing her studies, but she has a good support system around her.

“My partner Martin has supported me through many years of study, and our two Spitz dogs Asha and Yuki and our cat Sylvia. My mum, Dr Stacey Wilson, remains a huge support and mana wāhine in my life and career.”

Julia also credits her wider network of support for getting her to this point.

“I’d like to thank my lecturers at Massey who have been instrumental to my academic success, including Dr Claire Minton. To Associate Professor Elissa McDonald and Dr Felix Ram for being my academic supervisors for my research, and to all of those who continue to support my big ideas and continued learning at Arohanui Hospice.”

Left: Julia with her mother Dr Stacey Wilson. Right: Julia with her partner Martin on her graduation day in Palmerston North May 2023.

Interested in a career change to nursing?

If you are considering a career in nursing, Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University is hosting a webinar about the Master of Clinical Practice (Nursing). The two-year course allows you to use your undergraduate degree to become a registered nurse.

Find out more and sign up here.

Related news

A new path inspired by a love of learning

Thursday 11 May 2023

International Nurses Day this year acknowledges the theme ‘Our nurses, our future’, which focuses on the crucial role nursing plays in the improvement of global health. Working to join that cohort is Master of Clinical Practice (Nursing) student Kirsten Fidow, who reflects on her journey so far.

Turning perception into practice: Advocating for cultural safety in healthcare

Wednesday 10 May 2023

The journey to complete a Master of Nursing has served to further ignite the passion Tania Bailey, Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Rangi, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Mutunga, has for reducing health inequities for Māori.

A career in caring

Wednesday 19 April 2023

Lizzy Bunckenburg graduated with a Master of Nursing after years of juggling full-time work and studying.