Thu 16 Aug 2018

Brian Steps Up

Brian Smith recalls writing three words on a whiteboard back in the 1990s.

They were nursing, teaching and law.

He chose nursing, and within a few short years was glad he did.

“I picked up my first couple of jobs through word of mouth – I said I had studied nursing at the Taranaki Polytech and that was good enough – in one case, in the UK,” he recalls.

Brian, WITT’s new Head of School Nursing/Programme Manager Health and Wellbeing Hauora, has been at the polytech off and on since 1989. He has been acting head of nursing since April last year.

“I jokingly tell people I get paroled, but end up back here again!”

He started in 1989 as a “mail boy” in the administration department and then became one of the polytech’s two purchasing officers before deciding it was time to do some study of his own.

In 1994 he graduated top of his class after three years’ study. His study time at WITT also saw him involved in student affairs. He was vice president of the students’ association and looks back on his union involvement with fondness.

“It helps. I’m not that detached from my student days and I understand the needs of students,” he says

Brian has a background in IT and management to go with his nursing experience – and that experience helped pay for his big OE through Australia and the UK before he made his way back to New Zealand – and WITT – through Europe and South East Asia.

As head of nursing, health and wellbeing hauora, he says his primary aim is to maintain the standards that have earned WITT respect for tutoring health care and grow WITT’s health programmes.

They include fitness courses, health care assistant programmes and the Level 4 Certificate in Mental Health Services.

Brian is also helping to develop new whanau ora qualifications for WITT.

WITT’s Bachelor of Nursing is a bi-cultural programme and it is wholly appropriate that it is led by Brian, who is Ngati Rāhiri o Te Atiawa.

He attributes WITT’s success in healthcare teaching to the early exposure student get to clinical practice environments and the holistic approached students are encouraged to take along with the wealth of experience and talents of the teaching team.

Every third year nursing student who studied at WITT last year passed their State Final Examination test, enabling them to be registered as nurses. Every student who sought work in nursing found it.

Brian does get away from WITT on a regular basis – when he is not at work he likes nothing more than to do some DIY – which involves “building or breaking things”.

WITT chief executive Barbara George said she was very pleased with Brian’s appointment, which continued a trend of WITT growing its own people to step into leadership roles.

“Brian is one of many excellent people at WITT who are committed to leadership, our students and Taranaki. He is supported in this role by a highly skilled and well-regarded team.”