Sacrificing for Our Health

Gavin Wallace is working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic as a nurse at Rotorua Hospital

Tuesday, 07 Apr 2020

Rotorua nurse Gavin Wallace has had to make a few more sacrifices than most of us since New Zealand went into lockdown last month, but he knows it will be all worth it.

Working at Rotorua Hospital, Gavin is on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19 most days and says while he’s facing risks daily, he’ll continue to take care of people’s health.

“It’s the reason why I became a nurse in the first place – helping to heal people and being able to see people get better.”

But he’s also had to make other sacrifices to help us get through the pandemic. Rather than giving up an overseas trip or that medium flat white every morning, Gavin postponed his postgraduate studies so he could join the frontline.

Gavin says he has no regrets about postponing his studies and instead chooses to focus on the positives.

He says one of the best aspects about becoming a nurse, apart from being able to help people, is that you spend your entire career learning new things.

Gavin graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing in 2018 from Toi Ohomai. But he laughs when he remembers how he ended up studying to become a nurse.

He had been working as a mental health support worker at Rotorua Hospital for several years when an opportunity to become a diversional therapist came up.

However, after retraining, the job fell through and that’s when Gavin realised his collective employment agreement included a clause that would allow his employers to pay for him to become nurse, so he decided to enrol at Toi Ohomai.

“I was going to have to return to a position as a support worker, which was level 5 and I had pretty much hit the ceiling of where I could go, so I needed some mental stimulation and work would pay for the course, so that’s what I decided to do.”

Once Gavin joined Toi Ohomai, there was no looking back. He says he loved the close bonds that he formed with his classmates.

“We’ve all got friendships and bonds. You have this cohort of students who are all wanting to pass, so work together to get through. Most of our cohort made it through and everyone supported each other.”

After graduating, Gavin returned to Rotorua Hospital where he works on the medical ward, and as a contract nurse in the mental health department.

While he has put his postgraduate studies on hold until next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he says nursing requires him to keep his skills and knowledge up to date so he’s learning every day, particularly in this environment.

“I’m privileged to be able to work in a job where I get to keep my skills fresh and up to date. I love being a nurse and being able to help people, especially at a time like this.”