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Melanie Philip image

Melanie Philip starts her new role as Clinical Group Leader – Nursing on the seventeenth anniversary of her first day at Student Health.

Melanie Philip is looking forward to getting out and about in her new role as Clinical Group Leader - Nursing of Otago’s Student Health Services.

She steps into the shoes left by Katherine Martin, who retired recently after almost 19 years in the role.

Melanie is no stranger to Otago; she started at Student Health 17 years ago and along with her practice nurse and community nurse prescriber duties, she has been responsible for the screening and vaccination programme for Health Sciences since 2014.

While she has plans for the new role – including expand nursing services, initially via outreach services, and having more vaccinations available on campus -  building relationships is one of her priorities.

“Katherine has done an excellent job over the past 17 years of shaping and developing the role, and so I will spend some time initially getting a feel for the role.

“Building relationships within the University is integral to the role, so I will spend some time getting to know people and departments I will need to work closely with. While I’ll have less time for clinical work, it will mean I’ll get more opportunities to get out and about on the campus to various meetings which I will enjoy,” she says.

A lot has changed in the 17 years Melanie has been at Otago – not just an increase in the number of staff and Student Health  - and she expects that change to continue.

“We have worked through many different outbreaks – Measles, Mumps, COVID-19, and have adapted how we do things along the way.  We now offer more telehealth services which give students more flexibility.

“We have seen an increase in students with chronic conditions needing ongoing support from a GP, nurse and/or mental health clinician, as well as increasing acuity in urgent presentations.”

Student Health Nursing team image

The nursing team at Student Health

The future will see more nurses with more responsibilities, she says.

“We currently have seven nurse prescribers and another three completing training in 2024.  Nurses can manage and treat a wide range of minor illnesses and can prescribe contraception and a range of other medications.

“The nursing team generally have a lot more availability of appointments, and so we encourage students to make use of these – a lot of things don’t need a doctor.”

Promoting and implementing the new HPV screening programme, self-testing of sexually transmitted infections and changes to the eligibility criteria for the Meningococcal B vaccine will also be a focus for the service.

While Melanie is looking forward to her new role, she is pleased some things remain the same.

“I am lucky to have worked in the same area with a lot of the same people for a long time, and so day-to-day life won’t be as big a change as it could have been.”

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