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 work in.
I live in Canberra, Australia, in the house I grew up in, and bought from my parents 21 years ago! I am in my 31st year of nursing, after beginning hospital based training in 1981. I moved to Victoria after graduation, and worked in a smll country hospital which was the beginning of my love affair with small community hospital nursing.
My first hospital was staffed by an RN and an EN on each of 2 wings, with one of those RNs also responsible for the emergency department. On my return to canberra I worked in a relief pool, and was able to ‘try’ many areas of work in a large hospital. However, after the birth of my first baby, I began work in a small community hospital and have stayed there for most of my career since then, except for a short stint as an ambo.
I have a number of nursing related jobs at the moment. I work in a small rural Emergency Department which is, at times, overwhelmingly busy and stressful. I also do some work in the Operating Rooms at this hospital. I work as a supervisor to Enrolled Nursing students on their clinical placements, and assessing their competencies in practical applications in the classroom. I am employed by a company who are involved in a world wide drug trial for motor neurone disease treatment, which requires me to take and process blood samples for a patient on the South Coast. And finally, I am a member of the Navy reserves, and have taught navy medics in their hospital placements. I have just been told that I have been accepted to participate in Pacific Partnership 12, which is an humanitarian program staffed by people from many countries around the world, and operating out of USNS MERCY. Oh, and I work as a coach in a ladies gym a few arvos a week, which is like going to a big party, minus the bubbly!
What made you decide to become a nurse?
I was never planning to be a nurse; my choice of career was child care. It was a long time ago now, but I think that I met a friend who was going to train as a nurse, and I thought it might be a good idea. It was as simple as a phone call and my name was put on a list to go for an interview and test……..we had to write an essay about why we wanted to be a nurse….. and that was it. I was IN!
How have you seen the profession change over the course of your career? Do you see a positive future for the nurses that are graduating now?
I have seen so much change and I hate that our nursing ‘care’ has deteriorated. I believe that we are so busy doing the ‘paperwork’ that we forget, or don’t have time to do the ‘patient work’. Make me Queen for the day and I would love to see our students spending a majority of their training on the ward, being paid a wage. Our new grads are often so overwhelmed by the real nursing world, and they struggle with time management and all the complexities of being a nurse. And, although I don’t know the stats, I do know that a decent number of new grads leave the profession when they are faced with the reality of the job. So, no, I don’t see a positive future for the nurses who are graduating now, or for the profession.
Tell us a story: an amazing, funny, moving or memorable moment from your book of shifts.
Working in Emergency can be the funniest or saddest place to be, and that feelings can change in a heartbeat and a phone call .I have a funny memory, and one of my saddest memorable moments…..the blue patient who truly believed she had some dreadful disease, only to be told by me at triage that perhaps it was the new jeans she had worn that day. ‘You’re going to laugh at this with the other nurses aren’t you’, she said, and I told her yes. Arriving at work one afternoon I saw 2 ambulances in our driveway. That never happened unless it was something ‘big’, so I was not looking forward to going inside. The guys had bought in a dead 8 year old boy, and no one could contact his mother. He had been placed in our OR day surgery unit, and I could not bear it that he was alone in there and his Mum didn’t know. I went to where he was lying and just cried and cried. How could we leave him all alone……? Many, many days I have gone home and just held my own kids after a bad shift.
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 have 5 children, so when they were young that was what I did outside work! Now, when I am not at work, I like to run, and finished my first half marathon last year. I walked the Kokoda track in 2008 which was an incredible challenge that taught me that I can do almost anything I put my mind to. Otherwise, it’s coffee with the girls, or going to stay at my beach house and enjoy the sound of the waves and a few wines
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.
mmmm only 3?
An unstocked IV trolley. I know it’s busy, but…….
Unrestrained kids in cars. Unforgiveable!
The cat 5 patient who asks at triage ‘how long, I have somewhere else to be in X amount of hours, and I don’t want to wait too long’ !
The nurses desk: What is the one thing you would like to say to the rest of the nurses or general public out there.
To the nurses, let’s look after each other, even when we are having a crap day. And don’t diss the job. We need to focus on the good bits of it and enourage the next generations to take over when we are too old to do it any more!
To the general public, yes this is my job, but the hours are crap and I’m often out of my bed while you are snuggled up in yours, so please don’t give me a hard time when I am trying my best. Even the best and kindest nurse can lose her cool when you are being a jerk