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Any words of advice for working in Western Australia?
Working in WA offers incredible experiences waiting to be explored. In my job, I learn every day due to the industry’s diversity and the opportunity to work with nurses from various backgrounds and locations. My pearls of wisdom are to listen and learn from every person you encounter, regardless of their position. You don’t need them to be senior to teach you something valuable. I live by the mantra, “the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know.” This realization becomes more apparent as you grow older.
If possible, driving to your contracts is advisable while travel nursing in Australia. Having a car grants you the freedom to explore on your days off and allows you to bring necessary supplies. Local supermarkets while travel nursing in Australia can be expensive, so packing dry foods and cleaning products helps save money. While I support shopping locally, being frugal is also important. I buy fresh fruits and vegetables locally, but if there’s a nearby Coles or Woolworths, I do a big shop whenever possible. I have a car fridge in my Prado for transporting perishable items.
Researching what you can do, see, and experience during your contract is crucial. I regret not following this advice myself, as I discovered that Wyndham isn’t a 24-hour hospital, and many attractions are closed from August. Ensure you have enough supplies, especially medications if needed. Some places lack pharmacies, so knowing how to access healthcare and other necessary services while away is important.
Having a good internet plan is essential. Telstra is often necessary in remote areas, as other providers may not offer sufficient coverage. If you want to stay connected with home or go online, having Telstra is vital. It’s an often-forgotten tip, but an important one. Personally, I have a phone with a large data plan and a hotspot for Netflix. I would go crazy without it. While most places have improved their internet access, I never take it for granted. Invest in a good plan.
Getting to know the locals is valuable, as they can guide you to the best places and worthwhile experiences. Many are even willing to take you there themselves.
How was working in a prison?
Having worked in WA prisons, I can say that it was initially an intimidating experience. The security measures, including numerous keys, a Personal Duress Alarm, and a two-way radio, make you feel overwhelmed. You go through multiple checks before entering, which can be inconvenient, especially not having your mobile phone for the day. It’s a reminder of how dependent we are on these devices.
Every patient in prison has a unique history that led them to be incarcerated. Instead of dwelling on their past, the focus should be on treating them as fellow human beings in need of nursing care. The medical center operates as a clinic, with nurses handling most cases and scheduling appointments with the doctor when necessary. Prisoners receive high-quality healthcare, with close monitoring for chronic conditions and weekday availability of nurses for acute conditions. Weekends are reserved for emergencies, with one nurse on duty, aided by well-trained prison officers.
Although my family was initially concerned about my work in a prison, I realized that I was likely safer there than on the streets. A prison officer is always present in the medical center, and there are restrictions on the number of prisoners allowed inside at a time. High-risk prisoners requiring medical attention are accompanied by the appropriate number of officers. The medical staff at West Kimberley are highly regarded and well protected. I thoroughly enjoyed my contracts there, and the experience largely depends on the staff present at the time.
Any tips for travel nursing in Australia?
Each contract comes with its challenges, and I’m still learning how things work. We rely on our consultants to ensure fair contracts and a safe working environment. It’s a significant responsibility to consider.
Notably, communities in need of travel nurses value continuity of care. When they see new faces every week or two, it can be disheartening. However, their demeanor changes when they realize a nurse will be around for a longer duration.
Working in a new facility always presents unique challenges. These can include staff dynamics, patient interactions, community integration, and familiarizing oneself with the layout. Personally, it takes me a week or two to feel comfortable as a nurse in a new environment, which is why I prefer longer contracts.
Although I have been admired for constantly proving myself at each contract, I don’t see it that way. I am aware of my capabilities and never work beyond my scope of practice. The opinions of other nurses do not define my skills. As long as I ensure the safety and well-being of myself and my patients, I consider myself a professional nurse. That’s enough for me to sleep soundly at night. I don’t need to prove myself or seek recognition.
As for what’s next, I will be finishing my contract in Wyndham in four weeks. After that, I plan to head home to celebrate my granddaughter’s birthday on December 3rd. I’m considering returning to the Midwest for my next contract travel nursing in Australia, but I haven’t finalized any arrangements yet. I would prefer to be closer to home for a while and participate in the festive season’s celebrations, which I missed last year. While my original plan was for two years of travel.
— Steph B
HCA R&R RN