Caitlin Hedge

Key Info

  • Bachelor of Nursing

Growing up, Caitlin Hedge always had a heart for others.

“It’s a small accumulation of moments across your life that paint a picture, and make you realise the career path you want to take, and for me that was nursing,” says Caitlin, who enrolled in the University of Waikato’s three-year Bachelor of Nursing degree programme in 2022.

After graduating from Havelock North High School, Caitlin initially considered going into emergency medicine.

“I realised, if I was a paramedic, I would have to leave a patient, not knowing what happened after treating them. I wanted to be there to see the whole process, from the beginning to the end, whether it’s a successful outcome or not - which is the whole intent of nursing.”

Part of the University’s inaugural nursing cohort, Caitlin was attracted to Waikato because it was a new programme.

“I wanted to experience the fresh ideas and new concepts they are bringing into education,” she says. “Also, Waikato offers the most clinical placement hours across the country for nursing, and that was a huge selling point for me.”

In her first year, Caitlin did a nine-week placement at Whānau Āwhina Plunket, followed by an eight-week placement at Waikato Hospital’s OPR4 (Older Persons and Rehabilitation) ward for stroke patients.

Working at both ends of the age spectrum - with babies and older people - was incredibly valuable nursing training, says Caitlin, who hopes to work as a registered nurse after graduation.

At Plunket, she worked with families in emergency housing, which was “very eye-opening and humbling”.

“In terms of learning about social demographics, it was an experience I would never change.”

Working in the stroke ward was “clinically incredible” and “the most amazing experience”, says Caitlin.

“We got to do hands-on learning, doing vitals and doing the nurse’s role, with senior nurses watching over us. We also got to work with occupational therapists, physiotherapists and doctors. We worked with patients on their rehabilitation, as well as their immediate and urgent care.”

Now in her second year, Caitlin is a huge advocate of Waikato University’s nursing programme, which gives students a wide range of nursing experiences, thanks to a partnership with Te Whatu Ora Waikato.

“In other places you don’t get that opportunity, to do 32-hour weeks in a ward, in your first year.”

The intake of nursing students at Waikato University has increased year-on-year, with a record 211 new students for 2023, more than doubling the first intake in 2022.

In the future, Caitlin would like to study to become a nurse practitioner. She is also working on her emergency care qualifications so she can become a first-responder. Long term, she’d like to get into intensive care paramedicine as a nurse practitioner.

“I have high ambitions, but I am sure it will open doors that I don’t even know yet.”

Caitlin spent her primary school years in Cambridge, then Havelock North, where she attended Woodford House School then Havelock North High School.

She still has strong ties to the Hawke’s Bay region, where her family lives, and recently went back to volunteer with the cleanup and recovery efforts after Cyclone Gabrielle.

Caitlin’s kaupapa of caring extends into other parts of her life. She is a St John Community Educator, teaching CPR courses, and is also involved in the Youth Programme with St John.

She lives on campus at Student Village, one of the halls of residence, where she is a Residential Leader.

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