Dawn Acker and mentor Dr Chong at the 'Medicine of the Older Adult' course in May. by PSS

Learning the Gold Standard

In her very first year of being employed as a Nurse Practitioner Candidate at Enliven, Dawn Acker attended the Edinburgh International Course in Medicine of the Older Adult as part of her professional development.

As one of only two nurses at the course, Dawn describes it as “five full days on the geriatric giants” – the five main topics that are most important when working in elderly care: mobility, cognition, continence, frailty, and common co-morbidities. 

“It covered every single element,” she says. “It was all evidence based and the latest practice – just fantastic.” 

In its 40th year, the course was held at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh and had 107 participants from 17 countries around the world.

Dawn’s close relationship with mentor, and fellow attendee, Dr Chong, meant she was able to delve further into the topics each day and discuss the topics in depth. 

“We would go back in the evening and I’d get probably another two hours worth of education just sitting chatting over coffee,” she said.

Enliven Southland Director, Julia Russell, saw this as a huge opportunity for Dawn’s professional development which in turn impacts on all of the Enliven staff.

“We’re very fortunate to have such geriatricians in Southland. Dawn had an amazing learning opportunity not just because of the quality of the conference but being able to work alongside Dr Chong.” Julia says. “To spend a week with a geriatrician, and the geriatricians here, is such a solid way of cementing leadership.”

On her return from Edinburgh, Dawn was pleased to find EBOS Healthcare had reimbursed the costs of the flights and the registration, “all thanks to Julia. It was just fantastic.”

Dawn explains the biggest benefit of attending the course is her daily interaction with GPs. 

“I’m able to share my notes and say, look they recommend this particular drug as being the gold standard, let’s use this pathway, providing evidence and credibility.”

Dawn has only been working at Enliven eight months and between getting her head around the job and finding the time to share her experiences with colleagues, she spends every free moment studying – working towards presenting herself to the Nursing Council which is the last step in the pathway to Nurse Practitioner.

“By the end of this year I will be well cemented in my role as Enliven’s Nurse Practitioner.”

For a long time there were two NPs in Southland – both working with Enliven. The numbers are increasing – there are now multiple NPs working at the SDHB, WellSouth and in medical practices around the city.