With 20 years' experience under her belt, Diabetes Nurse Specialist Lupesiliva 'Lupe' Tu'ulua is now able to prescribe for her patients.
Lupe has become the first Diabetes Nurse Specialist in Canterbury to gain accreditation to prescribe medications in diabetes health and is also one of a handful of Pacific Island nurses around the country that have gained prescribing rights.
"It just made sense to me to be able to do this as I saw so many benefits," Lupe says.
"Most importantly it saves the patients' time; it also saves the nurses' and doctors' time – it is common sense. It's just better for everyone."
Lupe who first came to Christchurch on a nursing scholarship from Samoa in the late 1970s, started specialising in diabetes nursing in the 1990s when a position for a part-time Pacific Island Diabetes Nurse was first created in Canterbury.
"At the time I put my hand up because the role worked in well with having young children. Then as my children got older and I learned more about the disorder and gained more experience, I increased my hours. I could see a real need to help people particularly those from the Pacific community with managing this disorder."
Polynesian people (both Maori and Pacific Island) have the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the country and rates have increased significantly in the last decade.
"It is very scary to see how many people and families in the Pacific Island community are affected by Diabetes," Lupe says.
"So I think it's really important we continue to educate our communities about the risk factors and help those already diagnosed to manage the condition."
Allowing diabetes nurses the ability to prescribe is another step towards the health system providing care that is timely and more convenient for the patients.
This new law came into effect in 2011 and means diabetes nurses have the right to prescribe once they had met certain requirements. At the time Lupe indicated she wanted to sign up for gaining this accreditation but an administrative hiccup and several earthquakes in between interrupted the process. Sheer determination and a commitment to fulfilling her obligations to gain the accreditation saw Lupe get the process underway again in July 2013.
"In July 2013 the Diabetes Service Manager at the time set up a meeting with three diabetes specialist nurses wanting to go down that path and two diabetes specialists willing to provide the necessary clinical mentoring.
"Two of the nurses were ready to start on the 'prescribing journey' so we were able to pair up the two doctors and the two nurses. I nominated Dr Peter Moore to be my supervisor.
"But it almost became 11th hour stuff. I had to really drive it because I could see lots of benefits for the patients that I see on a daily basis. There were more hiccups and challenges along the way but I persevered. I couldn't have done it without the help of Dr Peter Moore".
A Diabetes Nurse working towards gaining prescribing rights requires a supervising doctor who works with people with diabetes. The supervising doctor is required to be positive and supportive of the nurse prescribing project. To facilitate the process with minimal disruption to the doctor, Lupe did most of the hard work behind the scenes before presenting it to Dr Moore in their scheduled meeting times.
"I found that Dr Moore upheld his part of the deal and I am grateful for his commitment in doing so."
Dr Peter Moore says with the rapidly escalating number of people developing diabetes in the community it is never going to be possible for diabetes specialists to be directly involved with every individual.
"Increasingly care will be provided in general practice and community settings with a need for more specialist nurses to support the primary care teams. Nurse Prescribers will play an increasing role," Dr Moore says.
Find out more information about diabetes at: www.diabetes.org.nz/about_diabetes/type_2_diabetesFor media enquiries or a high resolution photograph of Lupe contact Amy Milne on 027 502 7523
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