Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Often we’re asked about the career path to becoming a Family Planning nurse.
Here we explain the education and work experience you need, and what our National Nurse Advisor looks for when hiring new nurses.
You can keep an eye on nursing vacancies at Family Planning, which are advertised on our website.
You need to study a Bachelor of Nursing (3 years full-time) at a university, polytechnic or institute of technology to become a registered nurse. Depending on where you choose to study, there will be different requirements before you start:
- Universities will ask for University Entrance, including 14 or more credits at NCEA Level 3 Biology, or in other approved subjects
- Polytechnics and institutes of technology might ask for University Entrance, or an approved Level 4 pre-entry programme with a B-grade average, or proof of literacy and numeracy. There might be other requirements.
You can read more about becoming a nurse at the Nursing Council website.
Our national nurse advisor Rose Stewart says once you have graduated, you need to work as a registered nurse for at least one year before you apply for a position at Family Planning.
“When we are hiring, we usually give priority to people who have previous experience as a nurse in a general practice, for example nurses with experience taking smears,” Ms Stewart says.
“That doesn’t mean you can’t be hired without this experience. If you’re the right person for the role, we provide thorough training for your position at Family Planning.”
You and your interests
“What’s most important for us when hiring, is that our nurses have a non-judgemental approach to sexual and reproductive health and rights. We work a lot with young people, and being approachable, and understanding of their needs is so important,” Ms Stewart says.
For this reason we also look for nurses who are keen to learn about adolescent development and the issues facing teenagers, and who can appreciate that it’s different working with young people.
Our nurses also have a real interest in sexual and reproductive health and rights. This extends beyond contraception and STI tests – Family Planning offers a huge range of services, particularly relating to women’s health.
“Sexual and reproductive health and rights is an area of public health which is often judged and marginalised, and is under closer scrutiny than other health services. You need to truly believe in and support sexual and reproductive health and the public’s right to access these services.”
If you want to work in sexual and reproductive health care long-term, there are also great opportunities for career development.
“We encourage and support our nurses to practise to the top of their scope of practice. This means our nurses are doing procedures, carrying out treatments and doing clinical assessments, at the changing boundaries of nursing practice.”
Family Planning employs nurse practitioners and also supports post graduate study for nurses who have the drive and potential to become a nurse practitioner. It requires further study to gain a Master of Nursing (2-4 years). Being a nurse practitioner requires you also practise more independently, and it gives you greater responsibility within your clinic, such as prescribing.
“We’re also working hard to obtain more prescribing rights for registered nurses,” Ms Stewart says.
Family Planning nurses are hugely valuable to the organisation, carrying out 80% of all Family Planning consultations.
Being a Family Planning nurse can offer a range of workplaces – you could be in a big clinic with a large team of doctors and nurses, or you could work in a small, rural clinic with no permanent doctor. Our outreach clinics could see you working in schools, or sharing facilities with hospitals or other health services, or you could work with our team of nurses offering phone consultations.
“You work in a really nice collaborative way with doctors, medical receptionists, regional managers and of course, other nurses,” Ms Stewart says.
You must first and foremost want to be a nurse. Job opportunities may not appear in your region for some time, but gaining valuable experience as a practice nurse can help prepare you for a Family Planning nurse role.
“Being a Family Planning nurse is a really satisfying and great job. You work with a huge range of people, from about age 13 upwards and you can become specialised and very knowledgeable in your field,” Ms Stewart says.
Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.