Dr Sue Nightingale is well known to many in the Canterbury Health System and it's her established credentials and networks, which have led her to the role of Chief Medical Officer (CMO).
Dr Nightingale will step into the CMO role for the Canterbury District Health Board starting September 19, 2016.
"It was departing CMO Dr Nigel Millar who really planted the seed suggesting I should go for this role. It didn't take me long to think 'well yes, I can do this'," Dr Nightingale says.
"I have established connections across the Canterbury and National health systems. I am excited about taking on a new set of challenges.
'I work from a strong clinical governance framework which includes promoting clinical leadership, best clinical practice and ensuring the patient voice is heard.'
A committed clinician and talented leader, Dr Nightingale has worked for the Canterbury DHB and its predecessor organisations since 1988 in a variety of clinical and leadership roles. She is currently Chief of Psychiatry and Director of Area Mental Health Services, positions she has held since 2010.
During her time as Chief of Psychiatry, Dr Nightingale has displayed deep appreciation of clinical governance and leadership, and a real passion for ensuring patients' experience of healthcare is the best it can be. Her philosophy is simply "patients really do come first".
Dr Nightingale places huge value on the importance of involving and engaging families and also encouraging clinicians to work from the view of putting themselves in the patient's shoes.
She also believes clinicians need to maintain care and respect for each other at all times and for any bad behaviour to always be addressed immediately.
"Otherwise if you don't, you are saying you're accepting that behaviour."
Dr Nightingale also holds high the importance of having a work-life balance.
"We all need a work-life balance. I've always said that what's most important to me is family and everything else comes after that."
Alongside putting family first is taking charge of your own physical and mental wellbeing.
Making time to stay active and healthy is essential, Dr Nightingale says.
"I enjoy getting out on my road bike when I can and swimming. I've taken part in the swimming leg of a couple triathlons as part of a team. I really enjoy it and I think it's important to have outside interests in your life. You're not effective otherwise."
Dr Nightingale received her medical training at the University of Otago. She went on to obtain a Diploma in Obstetrics and, more recently, a Masters in Bioethics and Health Law. She initially trained in general practice, but moved on to psychiatry and obtained her Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (FRANZCP). In 2015, Dr Nightingale was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators (RACMA).
She has held a variety of clinical and leadership positions within mental health services in Canterbury and is also a government appointee to the Mental Health Review Tribunal on which she has served since 2009. Dr Nightingale is currently National Chair of the Directors of Area Mental Health Services.
In partnership with clinical directors and operational leaders across mental health services, Dr Nightingale has led wide-ranging service improvements to Canterbury's mental health services that are delivering stunning results despite the significant pressures that these services have been under over the post-earthquake period.
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