When Shortland Street's resident mother figure Wendy Cooper died, it wasn't just audiences shedding a few tears.

It has been a major grieving process for actress Jacqueline Nairn, who stepped into her scrubs every week for the past six years.

The process was made a little easier through the promise of a new challenge - this time behind the camera, she revealed to Women's Weekly.

Nairn recently took on a role as trainee director with her first efforts to be revealed in May across five episodes.

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"It's exciting, I could have spent another year playing Wendy Cooper, but now I'm training as a Shortland Street director," she said. "Who knows what else might happen?"

Wendy was killed off in the hospital drama's first week back for 2016, after a Christmas cliffhanger which saw gunman Gareth Hutchings let loose on a room full of hostages.

She died days later from a stroke caused by a bullet wound to the head.

As she uttered her final lines on the show: " I think I've been shot," the tears she cried were very real.

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"When we were rehearsing before we filmed that final scene, Amelia, who plays Bella, was kissing my forehead saying, 'this is from Jasmine' and 'this is from Evan'. I had tears streaming down my face," Nairn told Women's Weekly.

"Amelia was saying 'you can't do that!' I told her, 'if I get it all out now, I can concentrate on just trying to play dead in the take'."

- nzherald.co.nz