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Tell us a bit about yourself. What has your journey to nursing looked like leading up to become a rural and remote nurse?
I was born in Ireland and migrated to South Australia at the age of 9 with my family. I lived in Whyalla until moving to Adelaide in 1990.
I’ve forever been interested in nursing, I entered nursing later in life when my children started school. First, I studied aged care as I wasn’t sure at that stage if it would be for me so thought I best find out before commencing nursing. I loved it and began studying Enrolled Nursing soon after and the passion simply continued from there. After that, wanting to know more whilst working as an EN, I began studying Registered Nursing through Uni SA.
My nursing adventures lead me through the Royal Adelaide Hospital then into specialty areas, mostly STI/BBV testing, screening, educating, and treating and finally into Transgender Health. This was a most rewarding journey but after a few years of doing the same my quest for knowledge continued. I left the public system and moved into the private sector working as a Sexual Health Nurse and expanded my knowledge there for a few more years.
Again, my passion to know more lead to Corrections Nursing. My knowledge base and passion for empowering people to take control of their health made this particularly rewarding. With all the experience behind me I decided I could travel and share my knowledge and experiences and I haven’t looked back since joining HCA Rural and Remote.
You’ve seen and done a lot of different work with HCA – some other nurses could only dream of. What was it like working as a rural and remote nurse in…?
One of my most recent placements in a corrections setting reminded me of how vulnerable people’s lives can be. It gives us an opportunity to connect with and assist people to take control of their health again whilst they have the time to think and take back control. My wisdom to share here is, try not to know why the person is there. This can be hard when the person appears on social media or the news.
I train my mindset as a lot of what you read and hear is alleged and not my business. Inmates come to the facility health clinics to see a nurse for health service reasons, not to be ‘re judged’ by us. If you treat them with respect, you DO get it back! and there’s nothing to fear.
The Emergency Response Team
Just in these last few weeks I finished placements in Ceduna and Coober Pedy where I was part of the HCA Emergency Response Team. Having a background in Covid Management, rural and remote nursing, as well as COVID surge with HCA VIC helped set me up for success in this role.
As part of the Emergency Response team I assessed those who had Covid and treated their symptoms during home visits where possible. If acute, we organised for them to be flown to Adelaide for acute services. During my placement I learnt to connect with Indigenous Australians on a deeper level, and I loved it! I built great rapport with elders who in turn had daily yarns with me and assisted me to communicate key messages across to the vulnerable population so we could get send them back home to country, free of Covid.
Do you have any stories you’d like to share from your most rural and remote placements?
The Ceduna site where I set up a small clinic in the Town Camp had a snake drop by. I was talking to the local Paramedic who dropped some medications off and heard women squealing and men throwing rocks at the Paramedics vehicle. When we turned to see what was happening, we realised the men were stoning a brown snake (Indigenous men kill them this way for food). Well, the Paramedic was also a snake catcher! Who would have thought? He grabbed his catching kit from the back of the Ambulance and caught the snake, taking it from the site to another bush area.
On that same placement I also crossed paths with a great Elder in Cenduna Camp who turned out to be a great Indigenous artist. He painted me a picture… with a snake in it! before he left to return to country.
Overall, how do you find working across HCA?
With HCA, I also work in the HCA COVAX team vaccinating Nursing Homes in Victoria, NSW and SA. The variety of work I have is amazing. No two days are ever the same
Now I am back working with HCA in Peterborough for a few weeks. I can’t help but share with you all, the staff I have met in Rural areas have always been grateful to see you and helpful when passing knowledge about the job, the area, and the people you will be nursing
How about your time off, how is that best spent for you?
On my days off, I love to jump in my 4WD or Hired 4WD and explore the area around me. The locals are always happy to tell you the best places to visit! When working rural and remote even dirt roads lead to great sunsets. This is especially true in Coober Pedy. which simply has the best sunsets… Oh and opals! While here try “Noodling” at night. The best place to eat in Coober Pedy is Big Winch 360.
I love Rural and Remote nursing. Firstly, I get paid to travel. Winner!! Plus, I continue to learn and meet people from all over Australia. I love the challenges and take them on with a passion. With HCA I feel supported. My consultants listen and understand.
Anything you’d like to say as we sign off
Lastly, I would like to say anyone thinking about working with Healthcare Australia Rural and Remote…
My message to you is JUST DO IT. I’ll see you out there.
— Amanda C
HCA R&R RN