Would you like to contribute to The Book of Nurses in celebration of International Nurses Week this year (May 6-12)? Here’s How.
OK then, to start off tell us what country/area you live in, how long you have
been nursing for, what areas you have worked in and the specialty you currently
I currently live in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). I moved from Newcastle
to Canberra towards the end of 1997. My previous occupation when I first moved to
Canberra was working as a maintenance manager at a hotel-motel in Queanbeyan.
The hotel-motel underwent management changes every 15 months to which I felt
somewhat insecure for the long-term. In 2002 I decided to do something I would
never have contemplated doing before and that was applying for an aged care position
at a nursing home.
What made you decide to become a nurse?
A chain of events led me to nursing, one my maintenance position was unstable,
secondly I had been separated after 14 years of marriage, and finally I needed to work
towards some type of goal for my own personal life. I was looking for a job that had
some meaning and purpose compared to what I had been doing. I applied for an aged
care nursing position that specified that the applicants had some previous experience
in nursing elderly residents. I had no experience at all so I applied probably more for
the fun of it as all my other previous job applications to other forms of work were
coming back with “Sorry Unsuccessful thank you for applying”. I really did not
think I would be contacted by the nursing home but after about 6 weeks I received a
message on my answering machine to see if I would like to come in for an interview.
As a result I am now in my final year of nursing at university as a mature aged
Did you find your training prepared you for what actually goes on
at the bedside?
The first three months when I first ventured into aged care nursing were the toughest
based on the fact I had no experience at all. The saying of being thrown in the deep
was something I experienced back in those days. Learning the residents and all their
specific care plan needs took time to learn. The ward I was working in was high care
meaning the residents needed full assistance with their ADLs and mobility issues.
What sort of things really opened your eyes when you first began working ‘on
In aged care: it was seeing humans in their naked form when showering or washing
to which some were almost skeleton looking. Some were in their 90s on soft food
diets, not to mention having dysphagia issues which meant it was a struggle in getting
enough food and fluids into them at times. Attending to a resident in their last hours
of life makes you realise life does have an ending to which most of us seem to forget
sometimes. Dealing with obese residents to which one as 160+kgs took some effort
by the nursing staff I worked with, but we managed.
Tell us a story: an amazing, funny, moving or memorable moment from your
book of shifts.
Being a new nurse back in 2002 I was asked to shower and dress an elderly lady who
had previously had a stroke. Her mobility was limited so dressing was a tedious task. I
was doing okay till it came to putting on her bra. My knowledge of such contraptions
was limited even after 14 years of marriage as I knew how to take them off but not
putting them back on. I was under the impression that all bras did up at the back so when
dressing the resident she was gesturing to me that it was not right. So I took it off and
examined the bra and made adjustments to the straps and tried again and still no success.
I called in a female nurse and told her the problem. I won’t repeat what she said but it was
along the lines you dag your got it back to front…those types do up at the front. Mission
Not just a nurse: what about when you are not at work? What do you get up to
in the rest of your life?
I am an adult member of St John Ambulance in the Canberra region but have not done
much during this year due to my nursing studies. Last year (2011) I attended a few
events and one was to attend an annual rededication church service to which St John
Ambulance were asking for willing members to attend.
I decided it was something I
could do as it was only for about 3-4 hours max. It was on the same weekend when the
Queen was visiting Australia Sunday 23rd October at the ANZAC Memorial Chapel of
St Paul, Duntroon in Canberra. I just imagined it would be a service attended by the St
John Ambulance members. As I was sitting down in the church I looked up at a couple
walking towards the front of the church and it was the previous Australian Governor
General “Major General Jeffery and Mrs Jeffery” which took me by surprise.
After the service there was a little get together of everyone having some morning tea
together to which Major General Michael Jeffery and his wife Mrs Marlena Jeffery also
attended. I must admit I was blown away as I had never been in the same room with
people of such importance in my life before.
Major General Michael Jeffery came and spoke to me and shook my hand and asked
me of what I did in St John Ambulance to which I replied I have only been a member
since 2009 but spend most of my time studying nursing at university. He asked me if
St John Ambulance attends major events in Canberra to which I said yes they attend
various major events throughout Canberra such as football matches and cricket matches
along with the smaller venues requiring First-Aid assistance. He thanked me for my
contribution to St John Ambulance and wished me the best in my nursing studies.
Piss and Vinegar: name 3 things that really get under your skin, push your
buttons, or generally irritate you at work or outside of work.
Lack of empathy and tolerance by some experienced nurses when dealing with
Car drivers who don’t slow down at pedestrian crossings who see it as an
inconvenience and not a privilege to drive a vehicle.
Messy students that live on campus that don’t clean up after themselves.
The nurses desk: What is the one thing you would like to say to the rest of the
nurses or general public out there.
Hang in there your all doing a great job regardless of position or rank. The Victorian
Nursing industrial dispute over the nurse patient ratio shows that when we unite for a
specific goal or need it can be accomplished. John Laws used to say the more people who
speak up the more the government will take notice of. I think that is true as one small
voice just would not go far in this day and age. If you have problems with the current
registration process…speak up. If you whinge behind the screens nothing will get done.