Young Rotorua nurse receives NZNO award

October 1, 2020

Kelly Talbot, a 29-year-old clinical nurse specialist at Rotorua’s Southern Cross Hospital and student nurse educator (SNE) at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, is NZNO’s 2020 Young Nurse of the Year.

Kelly Talbot – NZNO’s 2020 Young Nurse of the Year.

She was one of five nominations. The award was initiated by NZNO in 2014 to recognise younger nurses showing dedication and leadership skills.


Receiving the award at the end of NZNO’s AGM last month, Talbot said she was “shocked about this. It’s just absolutely crazy and very unexpected. I feel very honoured to be the recipient of this award”.


She told Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand that receiving the award was a “nice booster”, coming as it did near the end of “quite a challenging year”.

Talbot began nursing in 2014 and has been working in the pre-admission clinic at Southern Cross Hospital for the last three years. When working at the medical unit at Rotorua Hospital, she served as an NZNO delegate and took a strong leadership stance on a number of workplace issues, including bullying, encouraging others to celebrate Pink Shirt Day on her ward every year.

She is also a much respected preceptor for student nurses, becoming an SNE at the local polytechnic in 2018. This sees her teaching some clinical skills during nursing laboratories at the polytechnic and preceptoring more than 20 student nurses each year.


“I am working full time now, but fortunately my manager allows me to work flexibly when I have students to mentor. Having these two strings to my bow helps me maintain interest and freshness in both fields.”

Remembering tough times

It was also not so long ago that Talbot was a student herself. “I became a teenage mother and remember all too well trying to juggle my daughter, work and study. Times were tough and I love that now, as an SNE, I have the opportunity to support and mentor students while on their clinical placements. I like to find out the personal circumstances of each of the students. Each one will need different kinds of support, depending on their life circumstances.

“It’s great that I can help build on their clinical knowledge with my teaching, seeing their confidence grow and being there to support them when they feel like giving up.”

Although not Māori herself, Talbot has always had close contact with Māori, growing up with Māori friends and having a Māori partner. This helps her understand the Māori students and many Māori patients she comes into contact with.

“At Southern Cross Hospital, the numbers of private and public patients are fairly evenly split, as we have six contracts with neighbouring district health boards [DHBs]. Working in the pre-admission clinic means having the very first interaction with patients at the hospital and having the luxury of being able to sit down with them for a whole hour. During this time, I can help them navigate their hospital journeys, plan their appointments, educate them about different anaesthetic options and solve any transport issues they might have. I can relate to many of these issues, as I can remember not having a car or not being able to afford the gas for the car. It’s also very important any cultural considerations are met, like patients having their own room so whānau can visit or stay with them overnight.”

Talbot was praised by her nominators for her strong leadership and interpersonal skills, and ability to incorporate the four articles of the Treaty of Waitangi into all aspects of her practice. A number of students she has mentored also noted her dedication to helping them succeed in their placements by sharing her clinical knowledge generously.

Talbot plans to keep developing the pre-admission clinic, so patient outcomes continue to improve. She’d also like to do an education paper to enhance her teaching skills.

She will use the prize money to help fund her last postgraduate paper for her masters, a research literature review, which she hopes to complete next April. “I have studied every year but one since I graduated. This means I don’t have much of a social life but I am determined to get to the end.”

The 2020 Young Nurse of the Year judging panel consisted of representatives from the award’s sponsor All District Health Boards, NZNO and the Nursing Education and Research Foundation, alongside 2018 joint winners Aroha Ruha-Hiraka and Annie Stevenson.

Other award winners

Four other awards were presented at the AGM. The first ever nurse practitioner (NP) at Wairau Hospital’s emergency department, Mike McNabb, received the service to NZNO award. McNabb has served on the NZNO delegates committee for the Nelson Marlborough DHB since 2016, and has been a member of both the college of critical care nurses and the college of emergency nurses since 2012.


Also receiving service to NZNO awards were chair of the college of gerontology Bridget Richards, who delivers NP services to older adults across the Waikato; and former chair of the women’s health college, Ann Simmonds, who, since retirement, has been working as a frontline screener for COVID-19 in Nelson.

The only winner of the services to nursing and midwifery award went to longstanding member and delegate for the Greater Auckland Region Bronwyn Kavalinovich, who is team leader in the obstetric operating theatre at North Shore Hospital.