What is remote & rural nursing like?
Interview with Ponee, rural nurse for 23 years.
Watch the video or read the interview below!
Hi Ponee, could you introduce yourself and tell us how long you've been doing rural nursing?
Hi I'm Ponee, originally from Malaysia and came out to do my nursing at St. Vinnies in Sydney. I came out to do my nursing in ‘71, and then joined Mediserve in 2002 and I think that's the best thing I've done. So it's 23 years now doing rural and remote work.
Where have you worked in rural Australia?
23 years now doing rural remote work. I’ve worked in every state bar Victoria. So it's taken me far north up the Torres, all of the Torres; as far east as Palm Island; I've done WA, but also Christmas Island and Cocos Keeling Islands. Down south as far as Tasmania.
What do you love about remote & rural nursing in Australia?
The autonomy. The closeness that one gets with the community, the beautiful friendships you can have with the community. When you've got extra staff, you can go out with them; when they take you bush bashing; when they take you to collect their bush medicine. That sort of bond, that's the acceptance of you as a professional for what you're doing for them.
Why did you choose to become a rural/remote nurse?
I was working in Brisbane, in the post-anaesthetic unit. One of the girls there was talking to me about rural nursing and... oh, nice little bells rang in my head. I thought, "that's something I would like to try". So I started rural remote nursing. That was the beginning of my rural experience, and I've never looked back.
How did Mediserve help you achieve your goal of rural nursing? What assistance did they provide?
They sent us out a list of what's available, but it's also up to me to say where I want to go when I want to go and for how long. So they've been accommodating to my needs, so they're more accommodating in what I want. So they've been very accommodating in that and they know what I've want. a couple of times when I've had emergency things that my daughter has been sick and I've had to fly back. They've been very accommodating in that sense as well.
What was it like working closely with a smaller community?
I think the fact that you can get closer with the community. If you have a bond with the community, you can achieve that rapport with the community. I think that even with other nurses, you form bonds with them, so that they become friends to you even when you leave the community.
How did it broaden your professional experience?
The things you do, you wouldn't do in an urban area where you've got a doctor. You know, you're doing much more on your own. You might not know they're pregnant until they present to your door. You might have an imminent delivery that you might not know about, and you might not be a midwife. I'm not a midwife! So you keep on doing it until you get it done.
What range of patients did you care for, and how did they differ from the city?
A lot more indigenous. But I would like to think in a city, a lot of them, would have been to a GP somewhere along the line. Not necessarily a lot of them, most of them would have had GP access somewhere along the line. Therefore, with rural and remote patients, you might not know their history. They'll come without their medications, all of that.
What were the challenges of rural nursing?
Being on your own away from your family is the downside. You've only got one store that sells everything.
Would you recommend Mediserve to other nurses?
Yes. If I didn't like it, would I have stayed that long? Miles will kill me for telling... He’s true to his word. But they also have to put something back in the community. Christmas time, anything I need for the community, for the kids or for any equipment, any fundraiser that I'm doing, they've always supported me.