Nurse practitioner to enhance patient care at Mercy


Mercy's Clinical Nurse Specialist Amanda O'Connor is one of only 50 nurses across New Zealand who has been accepted into the 2021 Nurse Practitioner Training Programme.

Launched in New Zealand in 2001, there are now 370 qualified nurse practitioners working throughout the country. These highly skilled health practitioners have legal authority to practice beyond the level of registered nurse, bridging the divide between nursing and medical teams and developing confidence and skill level amongst their nursing colleagues. 

To become a nurse practitioner, candidates must be registered as a nurse and have completed masters level study. Once accepted onto the nurse practitioner programme, training includes 300 to 500 hours of supervision, academic papers, a portfolio of work and a 90 minute panel interview. The programme is usually completed over 12 months. 

Mercy Hospital will release Amanda from her duties as Clinical Nurse Specialist on McAuley Ward for two days a week next year, to allow her to complete 300 hours of supervision. Anaesthetist Dr Mike Hamilton has agreed to be Amanda's mentor and she will shadow him while he works at both Mercy Hospital and Dunedin Public Hospital, providing exposure to a broad variety of surgical care.

Amanda says she is delighted to have the opportunity to build on her critical care knowledge.

"We're seeing patients with more complex health needs, and there is a demand for more specialised surgery and associated nursing care to be delivered within the private sector."

"Completing the nurse practitioner programme will equip me to better care for these high acuity patients, and also to share this knowledge with my colleagues," says Amanda. 

Before joining Mercy in June 2020, Amanda worked for 10 years in Dunedin Public Hospital's Intensive Care Unit. 

Born in Central Otago, Amanda completed her nurses training at Otago Polytechnic. She went on to gain her Masters in Clinical Nursing Practice in 2016 through Massey University, and following this she worked for three years teaching a critical care module through Massey University.

Mercy patients will benefit from having a nurse practitioner on staff, with the skills and experience Amanda gains through the programme allowing for more timely assessment and escalation of care for deteriorating patients. 

As well as working at Mercy and completing the nurse practitioner programme, Amanda is also a Primary Response in Medical Emergency (PRIME) nurse. She spends one weekend in eight based in Tapanui, West Otago, assisting paramedics and the rural GP practice with responding to after hours emergencies. 

When she is not studying or working, Amanda enjoys adventure racing and spending time with her border collie, Maggie, and labrador huntaway cross, Bentley. 

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