Nursing as a career never occurred to Kate Gibb until after leaving school, when a friend became very unwell. "I spent so much time with her on the surgical ward, observing and talking to the nursing staff," she says. "It got me thinking about nursing as a career for the first time."
That experience led Kate - who had been waitressing while she contemplated her next step in life – to enrol in the Bachelor of Nursing programme at CPIT. She says she had an "interesting journey" to qualifying with her degree. "I took some time out in the middle of the programme because I felt I still hadn't quite 'found myself', so I took a little longer than most."
It was during that break that Kate discovered a passion for working with older people in residential care. "I absolutely loved the long term relationships with older people and the ability to draw on all that knowledge and understanding of them as a person, and to be able to support them to maintain their health. It was also during this time that I realised how special and important it is to be able to support people at the end of life."
Kate's passion for this area of healthcare has continued throughout her nursing career, culminating in her current position as the Canterbury District Health Boards' Nursing Director for Older People – Population Health.
"I work across all of the different elements of our health system so my role is very broad. I'm part of our Older Persons Health Leadership Team, the Canterbury and West Coast Directors of Nursing group, the Canterbury Clinical Network Alliance Leadership Team as well as the CCN's Health of Older People Workstream and the South Island's Health of Older People Service Level Alliance.
Kate says this puts her in the "really fortunate" position of having a voice in leading change for how the DHB delivers services for older people both in Canterbury and across the South Island.
"Being able to offer a nursing perspective at a leadership level allows me to make a difference on behalf of all of the older people I've cared for over the years, and all of the staff I've worked alongside who are doing their best every day to make a difference."
Kate has continued her education since graduating from CPIT. She has a post graduate diploma in health sciences and is currently studying part time towards an MBA. "It's allowing me to understand more about health leadership and the 'business' of health," she says.
Kate loves her role at the CDHB and the opportunities it gives her to contribute. "I often tell people that it's like I've written my own dream position description. I feel very lucky."