Jean adds a doctorate to her CV

Date published
1 Dec 2016

Nurse, educator and long-time New Zealand Rural General Practice Network member, Jean Ross, has added a doctorate to her curriculum vitae. She recently had her PhD, which focused on the delivery of rural health care and nursing practice, accepted by the University of Otago.



 Jean is a Principal Lecturer and has been working at Otago Polytechnic since 2003. She is a Registered Nurse, holds a Bachelor of Nursing and a Master of Arts. From 1994 to 2003, she was co-director of the National Centre for Rural Health and instrumental in the development of interdisciplinary postgraduate nursing education. In 2008 she received the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network Peter Snow Memorial Award in recognition of her national contribution to rural health care.
Her PhD thesis, a retrospective study, which she began in 2006, explores the social construction of the evolving professional identity of rural nurses between 1990 and early 2000s. This period of time was associated with two significant national directives impacting on the professional practice of rural nurses and their contribution to the delivery of health care in the rural Otago region. The first of these national directives in the 1990s was the restructuring of the health care system, driven by the National government, to improve the social determinants of health that shifted the governance of health care from the state to local community control. Parallel to these changes was the motivation from the profession to reposition nursing, with the aim of advancing nurses’ practice so that their full potential could be harnessed, to improve the delivery of health care and reduce health inequalities. 
Jean says that rural nursing is recognised internationally as a speciality area of nursing practice, situated within the general field of nursing. This specialist area of practice is an underrepresented aspect of nursing in New Zealand, and its professional identity is challenged, misunderstood and does not fit easily within the national imaginings, wider nursing profession and policies governing nursing practice.
“I was interested in why rural nurses called themselves rural nurses and were being challenged by non-rural nurses to do that.”
As part of her thesis she has developed a model in which nurses – both rural and non-rural - can plot themselves and their practice and open up further debate with each other and the Nursing Council of New Zealand. “It’s a model you can look at rather than just read,” says Jean.