2023 | Volume 24 | Issue 2

Ensuring inclusion of nursing leadership in Pacific

Nursing leadership in the Pacific

Lina Olul is the charge nurse of the operating theatre in Port Vila Central Hospital in Vanuatu and manages the two operating theatres on site. Through her leadership and support of her team, the recent RACS Global Health volunteer Visiting Medical Team (VMT) completed a successful deployment in February this year. 

The VMT were able to provide clinical and surgical services to more than 250 patients during their week in Port Vila. This was possible due to the valuable partnership between national clinicians and Australasian deployees. The VMTs performed thyroidectomy and cholesteatoma grommet insertion surgery assisted by national clinician nurses and surgeons. 

Lina said that the best thing about her job was working in a team where everyone enjoys their work. As an operating theatre nurse leader, she understands the importance of planning ahead, nursing care plans, and communicating clinical standards to the nursing staff. 

In 2022 Lina completed the RACS Global Health funded Peri-operative Nursing Post-Graduate Certificate with 15 other experienced nurses. This accredited course was developed by the Australian College of Nursing and is offered to registered nurses across the Indo-Pacific region. While Lina has worked in the field of surgical nursing for 16 years, she felt a need to improve her theoretical knowledge. She says, “I learnt a lot! The theory was missing in my clinical practice, and this provided me with the application of theory to the principles of evidence-based practice.” She has also gained the benefit of the recently launched Pacific Island Country Nursing Standard Pacific Peri Operative Practice Standards developed by The Pacific Community (SPC) in partnership with RACS Global Health.

Lina said that nursing in the Pacific has many challenges, many of which are also being felt in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, including an acute shortage of nurses, difficulties in supply of anaesthesia, and specific drugs and medical equipment breaking down. At times the shortage of drugs (due to global supply chain blocks) has meant elective surgery has been postponed prioritising emergency cases.

Lina enjoys her role in nursing leadership and says, “nursing staff are the ones who are there for their patients always. Nurses are the patients’ advocate, and they make sure that they are safe. We speak for the patient, and we must protect them.”  When patients go to her, she is aware that this is a foreign environment, and they fear many things and that the nurse’s role is to help them throughout the process.

Lina says that her operating theatre team enjoys working with the VMTs, especially on cases that would otherwise not have access to surgical care in Vanuatu. “VMTs offer such critical lifesaving support. Working with them is a great pleasure as it provides us with training, and we all learn from each other. We wish to have more visiting teams in the future, so our nurses and doctors get access to more training, and we learn why we are on the job. Wish that they can come again until we have the skills ourselves.”

Lina is an exemplary nurse leader and says, “Every day is a new evolution in nursing. Our Vanuatu nurses are skilled and hope that one day when we have more trained nurses, we will have the complete skills to continue to care for and treat our patients ourselves."