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IN THE late 1980s, Lyttleton practice nurse Joan Porteous attended an education session where Christchurch Medical School tutor John O'Hagan remarked: "Practice nursing is seen by other health professionals as a resting place for middle-aged nurses wanting to earn some pin money."
The atmosphere in the lecture theatre was electric as practice nurses hotly defended their role within general practice. "The nurses were quite justified in feeling indignant," said Porteous. "At the same time, the remark did make us sit up, take stock of our achievements and find a new energy for improving the image and standards of practice nursing."
One of those with renewed energy was Porteous herself. A practice nurse at the Lyttleton Health Centre since 1980 and a member of the Canterbury Practice Nurse Division, she became increasingly politically involved, becoming an NZNO delegate and assessor during the annual wage negotiations, a division treasurer and eventually secretary of the Practice Nurse Section national committee in 1996. It was during this period that the executive committee paved the way for the section to achieve college status. Two years ago, she received an inaugural college award for her services to practice nursing, an honour, she says, that "blew me away".
"I've never seen myself as a high profile person. I'm just an ordinary nurse with a passion for practice nursing. I'm the sort of person who trails along behind others. I just plug away quietly at those things I feel passionate about," she told Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, three months after her retirement from the centre where she worked for 22 years.
High on the list of …