Award recipient humbled by accolade

Former Network chairperson Kirsty Murrell-McMillan is the recipient of the 2012 Peter Snow Memorial Award.

The accolade was announced at the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network’s annual conference held recently in Queenstown.

A Southland-based rural nurse specialist, Kirsty was nominated under the “Innovation or Service” category, which recognises her “outstanding service to rural general practice and to rural communities for many years, and her endless enthusiasm and drive in nursing and education”.

The Peter Snow Memorial Award was set up to honour the life and work of Dr Peter Snow who passed away in March 2006.

“I am humbled to receive the Peter Snow Memorial Award. The Dr Peter Snow I knew was a unique and highly principled practitioner for whom I had great respect.

“I thank my husband and my colleagues for being the inspiration and drive behind my work. I need to acknowledge that it was my husband who lured me back to working in rural Southland and took me, through his work, to live and to work in remote areas in New Zealand such as Te Anau and two years in rural Africa.  My personal drive was to be well prepared vocationally for joining my husband in more remote areas, as he was transferred with his job in conservation.

“On my journey as a rural nurse, I believe that my rural nurse colleagues and I recognised the need to legitimise rural nursing practice, to prepare and educate the next generation of nurses to be able to work rurally and that they have specific training to prepare them for the diversity of work experienced by rural nurses.

“But in particular, I believe that rural nurse practitioners are needed in rural areas. My dream has been that nurse practitioners working in rural areas would face less barriers and greater acceptance in providing continuity of care to rural communities. This is because I believe that rural nurses have been the back bone in providing continuity of care in many areas especially where areas are medically underserved.”

Kirsty spent her early years growing up in Manapouri, where her family has resided for six generations. She is a graduate from the University of Sydney with a Masters in Rural and Remote Nursing. She has taught rural nursing at both under graduate and post graduate levels in Southland and Otago Schools of Nursing. She now teaches at the Dunedin School of Medicine, Department of General Practice and Rural Health and is working to establish Invercargill as a learning centre in general practice.

Kirsty was instrumental in merging the Rural Nurses’ National Network with the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network Board; served on the Board for a number of years and is immediate past Chair of the Network.  She was the first nurse to hold this role for a general practice organisation internationally.

She is a Trustee for the Pat Farry Rural Education Trust; was a member of the Southern PHO transition board and Inaugural Nurse Trustee for the Southern PHO.

Kirsty was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2012 New Year’s Honours for services to nursing. She is passionate about promoting the team working within general practice and in particular provision of health care to rural communities.

WELL-EARNED:  Last year’s Peter Snow Award recipient Dr Martin London presents Kirsty with the 2012 award.