Brian Dennis, Clinical Psychiatric Nurse Specialist and Consult Liaison

Brian Dennis
Clinical Psychiatric Nurse Specialist and Consult Liaison
Southland Hospital, Southland District Health Board
Country of Origin: United Kingdom

I was the manager of a Crisis Assessment and Treatment team in Hertfordshire UK, where I lived with my wife (an anaesthetic technician) and two children. 

We decided to move away from big city life and the trappings that come with it and we wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle and spend less time in traffic jams.

We tossed up between New Zealand and Australia, but an advertisement recruiting to New Zealand ended up being the deciding factor and they secured a job for me in SDHB’s Southland Mental Health Services.

From day one, I was given a great welcome and good support to settle in.

We were met at the airport by staff and my family and I were put up in one of the hospital’s houses on arrival to allow us to settle in. People did everything they could to help us – like getting a car for us to use in the first few weeks, food packages etc were all organised and staff were keen to help us settle in and get over the jet lag.

The children advanced six months due to the timing of the school year, so they were wrapped – they didn’t have any problems in school work. Schools here have a more healthy academic and recreational balance, whereas in the UK it was all about school tests.

We also found that people are very willing to let kids play here, whereas in the UK parents are quite protective.

At a professional level, the health system is, on the whole, similar which made it easier to settle into his job, although there are of course some differences.

You get used to Pharmac and the medication regulations here. The nursing training is also different. In the UK, nurses do 18 months of generic nurse training and then spend the second 18 months in specialist training. Here in NZ you spend the whole 3 years doing generic training – therefore new graduates coming into mental health have a different level of specific knowledge.

My wife quickly found work six months later, with no shortage of help from my colleagues.

We spend quite a lot of our free time taking the kids to their rugby matches. We’ve travelled around most of the South Island and we’ve always found work flexible to enable me to have time off for family reasons too.

I don’t regret moving here at all for my family and our lifestyle.

Brian's Top Tips

► Do some research – I recommend reading the British book “Living and Working in NZ” book by David Hampshire

►You can get tickets to good international rugby here – much harder in the UK to ever do that

► Don’t expect lamb to be really cheap over here – it’s not, but it is fresh!



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