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24 May 2001

Upper Western Sector Nurse of the Year


Olwyn Johnston

The Stateís first Nurse Practitioner has been named the Far West Area Health Serviceís Nurse of the Year for the Upper Western Sector, which has been sponsored by Telstra.

Olwyn Johnstone, who works as the only resident health professional at Wanaaring, was named UWS Nurse of the Year at a gala dinner celebration in Broken Hill to mark the inaugural International Nurses Day conference.

The Minister for Health, Craig Knowles, earlier announced Ms Johnstone was to be the stateís and the nationís first practising Nurse Practitioner.

FWAHS Chief Executive Officer, Heather Gray, congratulated Ms Johnstone on both of her achievements.

"Olwyn has taken the accolade as being the first Nurse Practitioner to work in a community.

"She has also taken the accolade of Nurse of the Year in the Upper Western Sector and we are very proud of her.

"Olwyn is the recipient of a FWAHS remote nursing scholarship and is currently in her final year of a Masters of Nursing Rural and Remote through the faculty of Nursing, University of Sydney.

"She has travelled down to the International Nurses Day conference which was held in Broken Hill today not knowing that she was going to be named UWS Nurse of the Year and that a Ministerial announcement on the Nurse Practitioner was going to be made today.

"Our Nurse of the Year Awards, of which there are four, recognise the achievements of nurses working in the FWAHS.

"It is a time for us to acknowledge and recognise nurses Ė their dedication, hard work and professional achievements.

"I would also like to thank our sponsors this year Telstra for backing these important awards" Ms Gray said.

Ms Johnston started her nursing career at the Sacred Heart Hospice in Sydney in April 1979 as an assistant in nursing.

In July 1980 she commenced training at Saint Vincentís Hospital Sydney as a trainee nurse aide graduating as an enrolled nurse in 1981. She continued to work at Saint Vincentís where she began her training to become a registered nurse in 1982 graduating in 1985 as a registered nurse where she worked for 12 months.

Olwyn spent between 1987 and 1991 at the Royal Newcastle Hospital as a registered nurse before travelling to Walgett to commence work for the then Orana Health Service.

During this time Olwyn worked on a casual basis as a registered nurse in both Walgett and Lightning Ridge. In April 1995 Olwyn was offered a full time position working as a registered nurse in Lightning Ridge. In 1998 Olwyn accepted the position as Nurse Unit Manager Level 1 at Wanaaring Community Health Centre.

On the 7 May 2001 Olwyn successfully gained authority to register as a nurse practitioner making her one of six nurses in New South Wales to successfully fulfil the requirements of the NSW Nurses Registration Board in achieving this title.

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