Shortly after arriving here in New Zealand (NZ) I made an attempt to expedite the process of finding out whether or not I could work here by reaching out to the NZSA (New Zealand Society of Anesthesiologists) via email some time ago. In response, I got not one, but two emails. One of them was from the president. “That’s very nice of him to respond personally,” I thought. He invited me to call him over the weekend to discuss any questions I had. Very optimistically I dialed his phone number and had high hopes that this could be a connection that could be helpful as I learned how to navigate this new healthcare system.
The conversation lasted about 20 minutes, but within the first few minutes on that given Sunday, my optimism was dashed upon the rocky shores of this man’s ideas about doctors, nurses, CRNA’s, and the general state of NZ healthcare. He shared with great pride that he had essentially bankrupted his society to prevent CRNA’s from working here in NZ. He told the story of how he had hired a former prime minister turned lawyer (who he smugly compared to Bill Clinton). With the help of this “celebrity attorney” these doctors have halted the development of the CRNA role in this country (for now anyway).
The rest of the conversation is really not worth relaying to you. I was angry at the time but now I just feel sorry for him. He was a doctor who chose to live and practice in fear and an archaic ignorance that nurses were his competitors not his colleagues. This fear that someone was “out to get his job.” Did he really think that this is what inpsired nurses to get a higher education? That this is why nurses dedicated themselves to an incredibly rigorous education program where they were held to some of the highest standards in medicine? I think not, but this is not a point worth arguing with someone whose mind is closed. Closed by the same fear and ignorance that halt progress and patient care advances in healthcare.
I believe that as a nurse, patient care is first and foremost for the patient. I believe that care should be based on research and facts not fear, that optimal outcomes are seen when we (MD's and RN's) work together as a team not against one another. I know that myself and each of us as nurses have dedicated the skills and intellect we have to be used in the service of others, without ego or arrogance. I believe that CRNA’s would be an asset to the healthcare system here in NZ. CRNA’s could practice in rural areas where doctors often left without anesthesia providers. Small numbers of advanced practicing nurses are working hard and already positively influencing patient outcomes here in NZ!
As the conversation was reaching it's somewhat painful conclusion, I learned that 350 anesthesiologists are trained in NZ annually-most go to Australia to practice. This year that door to Australia will close and these new doctors may need to find jobs here in NZ. Due to this fact, I was told (the final condescension), “You have a snowballs chance in hell of working in anesthesia here in NZ” end quote…..followed by, ”But I like "Yankee’s" and that’s why I am spending my time on the phone on my day off talking to you.” This “Yankee” comment was preceded briefly by critical pontification about US culture, WWII involvement, and politics that verged on the comical…..but I digress (ignorance is not worth sharing but it feels good to vent about!). A snowballs chance? What he failed to learn about me (amongst other things) was that the only snowballs I know go by the names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego….
(For those of you who don't know the story Shad, Mesh and Ab were thrown into a very large furnace BUT didn't die, burn, melt or even smell like smoke when they came out...Old Testament, book of Daniel.). What do you want to bet they were nurses ;)