Academic with a Prescription for Change

Associate Professor Rachael Walker – an expert in renal care.

A newly appointed associate professor in EIT’s School of Nursing, Rachael Walker is as focused as ever on boosting health outcomes and reducing inequities for the people of Hawke’s Bay and beyond.

Born and raised in Wairoa, Rachael has been a driving force in this region’s nursing profession.

In 2010 and at the age of 32, she became New Zealand’s youngest nurse practitioner and the first to gain that status specialising in the care of kidneys.

Now she is continuing to break new ground in heading EIT’s registered nurse prescribing programme.

EIT is one of only four educators nationwide accredited by the New Zealand Nursing Council to offer this pathway, which is aimed at improving people’s access to health care, making more effective use of medical staff time and strengthening inter-professional working practices.

Launched at EIT earlier this year, the programme educates experienced registered nurses who work in primary health and specialist clinics in prescribing within a collaborative team for patients with such long-term and common conditions as diabetes and respiratory disease.

Over the last three years, while working at the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board as a nurse practitioner and raising two young children with husband Shayne, Rachael furthered her nurse education.

Last month she was awarded her PhD through the University of Sydney medical school. Rachael’s doctorate research focused on patient and whānau preferences for dialysis treatments with a particular focus on health economics.

Reflecting on her educational journey, she admits to not being at all sure of her career direction when she left Wairoa College.

After completing the health science intermediate programme at the University of Auckland, Rachael returned to Hawke’s Bay and enrolled to study EIT’s Bachelor of Nursing. Apart from a stint working in the UK, she has worked for the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board since graduating and has over 10 years’ experience in renal care.

Having focused in particular on the prevention of kidney disease, Rachael is keen to keep promoting the management of diabetes and high blood pressure and advocate for a healthy lifestyle.

She walks the talk, having completed three full Iron Man events while studying for her PhD.

In her associate professor role, Rachael will also be undertaking more research which she hopes will address inequities in health and explore patient-centred care and preferences.

Author: Laura