Education the answer to complexity of nursing says new school head


Professor Nicolette Sheridan, incoming head of the School of Nursing.


Primary health care research specialist Professor Nicolette Sheridan has been appointed head of the School of Nursing in Massey University’s College of Health.

Professor Sheridan, Ngāpuhi, has worked at Massey for almost two years and is currently director of the Centre for Nursing and Health Research, based at Auckland.

Her research interests include healthcare consumers’ experiences of long-term conditions, and investigating disparities in primary health care services between indigenous and non-indigenous citizens, and Pacific and non-Pacific citizens as a means of monitoring government commitment to indigenous rights and equity in health care.

She is a registered nurse with a PhD and Master in Public Health from the University of Auckland, and holds occupational health and tertiary teaching qualifications.

She says increasing the capacity of the School of Nursing and redesigning nursing education is a priority. “There is an opportunity to rethink the role of nurses within the context of the health workforce, the impending nursing shortage, health inequities and future technologies.

“Over time, health care has become more complex. Nurses make critical decisions in the care of very sick patients in hospitals and work with increasingly more sophisticated life-saving technologies and information management systems. To respond to these demands nurses must achieve higher levels of education and training.

“I believe the University is well-placed to transform nursing education so that current and future generations of nurses can continue to deliver safe, quality, patient-centred care. There are great challenges for nursing, and other health workers, in the management of chronic conditions, primary care, prevention and wellness. The demand for better mental health services, youth health services, long-term care, and palliative care is increasing.”

Last year Professor Sheridan was awarded $1.33 million from the Health Research Council and the Ministry of Health to lead a collaborative research project, investigating the effectiveness of primary care delivery.

College of Health Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Mills says Professor Sheridan is one of New Zealand’s most highly-regarded nurse academics with experience and expertise in nursing education and interprofessional health research.

“Professor Sheridan’s distinguished career record includes international and national research studies that have made a significant difference to the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders. Her strong networks of leaders and organisations at community, national and international levels and strategic approach to nursing education ensure alignment with health workforce needs.

Professor Annette Huntington, who has held the role of acting head of school since March 2018, will step down from this role on October 14, but will continue to work with Professor Sheridan until the end of the year, to ensure a smooth transition for staff and students. Professor Huntington, one of New Zealand’s most experienced nurse academics will remain at the University to continue her research.

Professor Mills thanked Professor Huntington for her work in the interim role “as well as the enormous contribution she has made over the past 16 years, not only to our University, but also to the wider nursing profession”.

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