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How I Became a Travel Nurse: HCA RN Irna’s Journey (so far!)
Healthcare Australia

How I Became a Travel Nurse: HCA RN Irna’s Journey (so far!)

What led you to Rural and Remote Nursing, and what did your career look like before getting into R&R?

Before I started as a travel nurse, I was working a permanent part-time position in a busy general surgical ward for 11 years. I really did enjoy doing it, but last year I started to get bored doing the same things every day. There were times when I did not want to go to work at all, I needed a new challenge!


I have been wanting to try Rural & Remote for a while, so I thought I would give it a go. It was daunting to leave a permanent job for a casual job, but I am glad I made this decision. I am enjoying my experience, and I am learning so much from my current placement.


Before becoming a travel nurse did you travel much outside of work?

I have not travelled much at all. I was born in Indonesia and my family are still there, so my overseas travels were just between Indonesia and Australia. I have always wanted to go places and explore Australia. Rural & Remote nursing has helped me make my dream of exploring come true.

Rural and Remote Nursing
Coffs Harbour in NSW is famous for its coastline.

What drew you to corrections so early on in your R&R journey?

I have been doing ward nursing for the past 11 years, and I was getting bored, I really need to do something different. I thought what could be more different from corrections. Not only that, but I was a bit apprehensive about it, but I am glad I made the decision; I am enjoying my experience, and I am happy that I am learning new skills.


How do you find working with your personal consultant up in Darwin, Eliza?

Eliza is amazing, very helpful, professional yet approachable! I am glad to have her as my consultant.


Exercise and personal health whilst travel nursing

I was not always fit; in fact, I am still far from being fit, but I am a lot stronger than I was a year ago. To me, exercise is my pick-me-up. There’s nothing better than to hit a punching bag or to slam a slam ball after a stressful day at work. In other words, exercise is my stress relief.


Finding time to exercise when you are travelling around can be hard. One thing I have learnt from my fitness journey is that you don’t wait for motivation! Just start and build discipline! Make exercise part of your everyday activities like brushing your teeth, make it a habit.


I like high intensity interval training. It’s short but very effective, taking up only 30 minutes of your day. I’m lucky that I can take my car to my current placement, so I can pack my dumbbells with me. If luggage is a problem, you don’t need any fancy equipment to exercise other than your body and your creativity. An example exercise is:


  • 10x body weight squats
  • 10x lunges
  • 10x sit-ups
  • 10x push-ups.
Rural Fishing Travel Nurse
Grafton is surrounded by plenty of amenities and activities to enjoy

Do it back-to-back, as many rounds as you like. These types of exercises can be done anywhere, anytime, in limited spaces. Doing it outside in the fresh air is much better, but if I don’t have anywhere to go, I will do it next to my bed in my motel room.


My advice is to find something fun. There are a lot of free exercise videos on the internet. I’ve been using an online exercise app, which I can use whenever and wherever there is WiFi. Our job is caring for others. Sometimes, as we are busy caring for others, we often forget to take care ourselves.


So let us take care of ourselves, exercise can help us keep and improve both our physical and mental wellbeing.


How is it balancing work/life when you’re out and about on placement?

I always love nature, particularly mountains. After working long hours, it is nice to be out and about in the fresh air. If I have something to do such as washing, shopping etc I will make sure to do it during my working days, therefore I am free to explore on my days off. Being one with nature is a must for me, it helped me clear my mind, so I will be feeling fresh when I am going back to work.


And out of the places you’ve visited, what would you recommend checking out?

I am currently in Grafton; this place is amazing, close to both beautiful beaches and mountains. My favourite so far is Dorrigo National Parks, there are beautiful waterfalls and walking tracks. But I am sure I will find my new favourite hiking trails soon. I can’t wait to do more exploring!

Grafton Rural and Remote Nursing RN EN
The rainforests found within Dorrigo National Park are World Heritage-listed.


How has it been meeting other HCA nurses, and do you keep in touch with the people you meet along the way?

I came across the Nourished Nurses Facebook page and I saw that they are working in corrections. I reached out to them and asked them to share their experience working in corrections.

They are the reason I am here now. I was quite apprehensive, and a bit scared, but they helped me make my decision to do corrections. They are amazing, they welcomed me with open arms even though we had never met in person before that.


They make me feel like we have been friends forever. It was great to meet other HCA nurses, it felt like meeting family. Everyone’s so helpful and welcoming. I keep in touch with them through social media, it’s nice to see where everyone is.


Have you ever considered working in a remote location?

Yes I have, the further, the better. I am always up for a challenge and I love adventures! I really think that I will gain so much valuable skills and experience working in remote locations.


What’s next for you? Where do you think you’d like to explore next?

I can’t choose, I am happy to go anywhere!


– Irna R

  HCA R&R Acute Care RN

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