Visiting lakes hospital in Queenstown, New Zealand, was one of my favorite health care visits. I really enjoyed seeing a rural hospital and the logistics of how one is run and funded. I really appreciated learning all the details about New Zealand’s healthcare system that I was still a little fuzzy about. For example, I learned that someone can purchase “private” insurance and pay a relatively cheap price per month. All the private insurance is doing is allowing someone to get care quicker or “skip the line,” so to speak. However, only ten percent of people purchase this extra insurance.
Something else that was really intriguing to learn about was the health goals and initiatives that New Zealand spends most of their time, energy, and money focusing on. The top goals I noticed dealt with smoking cessation, infant immunizations, six-hour emergency department visits, cancer therapy initiated within four weeks, improved access to elective surgeries, and screening for stroke and heart diseases to prevent these diseases and to change lifestyle choices. In terms of the smoking initiative one goal is to make sure all patients are asked if they are a smoker and to then follow up with questions. Ninety percent of those asked that actually smoke need to be asked if they want to quit. They then need to be provided with cessation education. Also, in terms of child immunization the healths ministry wants to increase the immunization rate to ninety percent. These all seem like wellness initiatives with the focus on creating a safer and healthier environment for all New Zealanders. The United States also has health initiatives/goals that compare to New Zealand.
The top three healthy initiatives that struck me while researching are tobacco use, physical activity, and adolescent health. While researching Healthy People 2020 I discovered that the United States has significant initiatives and goals surrounding the use of tobacco. They want to try to reduce tobacco use by adults and adolescents. The United States plans on changing the health system by increasing screenings and offering cessation counseling. I noticed this was very similar to what New Zealand is doing. Physical activity goals include the improvement of health, fitness, and quality of life through physical activity. I thought this was an important one to touch on because so many people are now transitioning into the overweight category. Some of the physical activity interventions include increasing the proportion of people who choose to walk and bike. This is very important because they are targeting all ages, but especially young children to get them started earlier on healthier habits. This is a potential issue in New Zealand because one in five people is obese.
Lastly, I chose to mention adolescent health as something the United States is focusing on because they are the future generation and as we have seen, establishing good habits young leads to a healthier lifestyle. This health initiative focuses on increasing the proportion of adolescents getting check ups, increasing education achievement, and reduction of violence and crime by instilling positive health habits and education early.
This affects me as a future practicing nurse because as a health care professional I set an example of health. If I practice a healthy lifestyle hopefully I can influence those around me and further advocate for a generation of health advocates.