Nursing began at 40 for this career changer and she isn’t looking back

Cathy Fraser Reading changed her career to nursing when she turned 40 and has never looked back.

At age 40, Hamilton mother of four, Cathy Fraser-Reading decided it was time to achieve her lifelong dream of being a nurse.

After experiencing the care and support one of her children received after a year-long stint at Starship Hospital, Fraser-Reading gave up work to study a Bachelor of Nursing degree at Wintec.

“I had always wanted to be a nurse but having four children at a young age delayed the process a little,” she says.

“When one of my children spent almost a year in Starship Hospital, the care and support the nurses provided to us as a family played a big part in our ability to come through that situation. It reinforced my desire to take up nursing and when I turned 40, I thought ‘it’s now or never' so I quit my administration job with the NZ Police and started studying at Wintec.”

As a mature student in the programme, she says she didn’t feel old.

“It didn’t matter if you were 20 or 40. As students we were all headed in the same direction and supported each other. I actually found that a little bit of life experience stood me in good stead.”

Fraser-Reading was awarded the 2008 Olive Hamilton Award for “Top First Year Student”, confirmation that she had made the right decision.

That was just the beginning, since graduating with a Bachelor of Nursing degree, she has completed a raft of nursing qualifications including a Postgraduate Diploma of Nursing, a Master of Nursing and the Registered Nurse Prescribing pathway.

For the last 10 years, Fraser-Reading has worked at Hamilton’s Hillcrest Medical Centre in Hamilton, initially as a practice nurse and now as a registered nurse prescriber specialising in diabetes and related long-term conditions. 

 “I chose to specialise in diabetes and this means I can cultivate long-term relationships with patients and help people to achieve the best health possible through the right medication, encouragement and support,” she says.

“It’s never a ‘one size fits all’ approach for diabetes patients and as a clinician I find this very interesting and challenging. Diabetes is a complex condition and people with diabetes often have other complex health conditions – it’s about treating the whole person.”

Becoming a specialised diabetes nurse, meant taking a break from her job as a practice nurse to complete a two-year diabetes internship with the Waikato Regional Diabetes Service in 2014. She became a diabetes designated prescriber in 2017 before completing Wintec’s Registered Nurse Prescribing Practicum programme in 2019 to become a registered nurse prescriber in primary health and speciality teams.

“Nursing is extremely rewarding and I feel privileged to be part of my patients’ health journey and to enable people to improve their health and wellbeing. In many ways it is a teaching relationship, helping people learn the skills they need to better manage their health themselves - especially diabetes and other long-term health conditions.

“I support patients in a variety of ways; problem solving as situations arise, encouraging motivation to make and sustain lifestyle changes to improve health outcomes and linking patients in to secondary or specialist services. I particularly enjoy the contribution I make to the management of patients’ medication plans in accordance with my registered nurse prescribing role.”

Fraser-Reading also teaches a component of Wintec’s Diabetes and Care Management paper for registered health professionals as well as presenting and sharing knowledge on insulin induction and management with practice nurses at Midlands Health Network.  

“Nursing is a profession with a wide scope of interest – from babies to old age and everything in between.  Whatever area of health you are interested in, there is the ability to develop knowledge and work in that area.”

Find out more about studying nursing at Wintec.

This year, 2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. This story is part of a series where nurses and midwives who have graduated from or worked with Wintec tell their stories.

Read more:
The full circle: from student to midwifery mentor
A message to our nurses in 2020
New Zealand Aotearoa midwives this is your day today


Year of the Nurse and the Midwife 2020