Year of the Nurse & Midwife: Merryn

A thank you note by a patient left for clinical nurse specialist Merryn Jones sums up why she continues in the profession. “It’s not how much you know; It’s how much you show you care,” the note said. 

For Merryn, nursing meets her compassionate needs.  

“I love people. The work I do is important for me because it is about people - he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.” 

Of Ngāti Rakaipaaka descent, Merryn’s world into nursing began as a teenager after she leaned over her brother’s shoulder to read his nurse training application form. 

“It sounded quite good so I thought I’d apply too even though I had one year of high school left to go.  

“Just three days after my seventeenth birthday, I started my nursing training at Middlemore Hospital.” 

A highly skilled nurse of more than 40 years, Merryn has worked in a variety of roles from renal, plastic surgery and practice nursing. However, working as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the DHB’s transplant coordination team is where she is most widely recognised and acknowledged for her contribution far beyond her nursing role. 

Merryn completed a Masters of Nursing Science in 2017 where she delved into the many barriers patients with end stage renal disease face when finding a suitable living kidney donor.  Her thesis findings revealed such disparity for Māori that she organised New Zealand’s first ever Transplant Hui to better educate and raise awareness among Māori – it gained not only national industry attention, but drew attention of major news networks to cover the issue. 

“We needed to face this head-on, to better educate and bring whānau and specialists together. 

 “For example Māori represent nearly 79 per cent of the dialysis population in Hawke’s Bay and yet, of the 187 kidney transplants in New Zealand in 2017, only 23 (12.3%) of the recipients were Māori.” 

Merryn says her advice to anyone considering a career in nursing is to understand that goals are limitless. 

“Nursing is so diverse – it has allowed me to raise a young family, work through my own health challenges and undertake studies that I hope will have lasting and positive impacts on our population.”

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