2018 has been an important year for Southern DHB’s Charge Nurse Manager Karen Kempin.
As well as taking on a key role in getting Southern DHB ready for the launch of the National Bowel Screening Programme, she is also one of only four nurses in the country who are undertaking endoscopy training, enabling her to carry out gastroscopy and colonoscopy procedures independently with clients.
For International Nurses Day 2018, her experience is the chance to highlight the diversity of nursing roles, and the ability to “go above and beyond a traditional nursing role”.
“Whilst I am currently Charge Nurse Manager for the Gastroenterology Department at Dunedin Hospital, I’m a bit of a unique position, as I am a nurse endoscopy trainee so I am learning from my medial colleagues how to do endoscopies. The classic role for endoscopy nurses has been to stand by the doctors and take biopsies, do histology as well as making sure the patient is OK during the procedures. Whereas I’m now in the process of taking it a step further; I’m the one running the endoscope and doing the procedure so that’s very exciting,” says Karen.
As well as the four nurses in New Zealand who are completing endoscopy training, another four are currently starting the process with postgraduate study. Once fully qualified, endoscopy nurses are able to deliver gastroscopy and colonoscopy without a doctor present, as Karen explains: “For the moment I can do upper gut scopes independently in Dunedin Hospital, I’ve done close to 400 of those, but for colonoscopy I’m still having a doctor in the room, giving me tips and pointers and making sure that I’m doing it safely.”
One of the main challenges for nurses taking on this role is sedation, as Karen explains: “If the patient chooses to have sedation you have to be a nurse prescriber, so that’s the next stage for nurse endoscopists, working out how we are going to manage the prescribing side of a procedure.”
Karen would encourage other nurses to consider taking on the gastroenterology specialty: “Being in gastroenterology is wonderful because there’s a real scope for advance practice roles, to go above and beyond what’s always been a traditional nursing role. Plus, I really enjoy spending time with our teams of nurses in SDHB, doing training and looking at the quality of a service in particular. That’s one of my passions, making sure we do quality improvement constantly in all of our services. That includes talking to patients and finding out what they think, as well as with teams of nurses and doctors of course.”
Karen has also enjoyed working on the roll out of the National Bowel Screening Programme across Southern. In her role, she worked on ensuring the DHB had good processes for managing the additional patients it expects, and updating the documentation around the procedures and guidelines. “Our DHB has some of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the country, and New Zealand some of the highest in the world. So bowel screening is such a valuable programme for our district, not just the people who do the test but their families, whānau and their wider communities. It’s great to be a part of it.”
International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every May 12, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth.