It’s been over 2 months since I last updated this blog and you know why? Because I didn’t think I had much to really tell you about! However I thought it would be nice to give you an update on what’s happening in our lives in Alice Springs and what we are hoping for in the future.
I have been working full time since the 1st November 2018 and really enjoying my job, role and team I am with. I am learning a lot and enjoying having some structure in my days! However I am also still yearning to be on the road exploring the country so we have tentatively decided that we will travel down through SA and Victoria to Tasmania in April 2020.
It is summer here in Alice Springs and really really hot. I mean, 45.6 degrees Celsius hot (114.8 degrees fahrenheit) so you can only do very little during the day time due to such sweltering heat! For Tim and I being such sand-gropers who came from a climate that barely reached 30 degrees in the middle of summer, we are feeling really claustrophobic and stifled by this heatwave. We dream of the ocean and crystal waters!
Tennant Creek (four hours north of Alice Springs and one of my favourite towns) is even hotter and one day (if not more) it reached almost 50 degrees (122 fahrenheit)!!!
Tim and I moved into a 3 bedroom rental property in early November and we love it there. I have been planting flowers and keeping the garden green and lush despite the suns harsh treatment!
I’ve also made a few lovely friends here in Alice Springs so it’s wonderful to see them and have a laugh. I miss my friends and family back home HEAPS! And we look forward to seeing them when we visit Albany.
As many know, Australia has heaps of killer animals just waiting to pounce and attack! And we found two enormous spiders in the first few weeks of being here!
The first is a mouse spider and was discovered crouched in the cupboard under the sink of the apartment we were renting. He was placid though and seemed confused as to how he got there. I scooped him into a box and let him go outside without a fuss (from both me and the spider!).
The next was a Huntsman spider who scampered up my windscreen while I was driving causing me to scream like a banshee and almost swerve off the road!!! He then sat on my roof while I was driving so I was too scared to wind my window down to swipe my card to get into the work carpark! I ended up leaping out of the car and using an old box to swipe him from my roof. He ran under my car and I believe he is still there to this day, waiting to leap on me while I’m driving! Argh!
We were planning on flying our dog Izzy over to be with us but after talking to Tim’s sister, it was decided Izzy would live in Albany with her and her family as she is very settled there and the kids love her. We miss Izzy a lot but comforted that she is loving life and being really well cared for. We get photos of her at the beach and she radiates contentment.
We love having a pet so recently we adopted a beautiful little scruffy terrier who came from a camp near Ti Tree about 2 hours north of Alice Springs. A local vet (Alice Springs Veterinary Centre) rescued her and provided treatment for her mange and undernourishment. We named her Georgie and she is about 6 months old.
Georgie is the light of our lives. As she is still a puppy, she is extremely adaptable and demands our attention to play, cuddle and simply just know that ‘I am here! I am Georgie! Let me bite your ankle!’. She has put on weight and getting used to being carried around and smooched on her fuzzy cheeks and fat little paws. We play and exercise her in the morning before it gets too hot and she gets a lot of attention during the day so is blossoming into a beautiful smart pooch. She wants me to tell you she can sit, lie down and almost roll over!
Georgie has missing/patchy fur because of the mange but I am keeping photos of her progress as she heals and grows more fur. She has also recently been spayed hence the stitches on her little tummy. We are so blessed to have her as part of our family and enjoy getting to know her and her quirky personality every day.
2019: I am starting full time studies towards my Master of Forensic Mental Health in February and will also start my full time graduate program in late March. It is going to be a huge but rewarding year and although I am super nervous about my graduate program, I have heard the team are really supportive and great to work with – yay!
So that’s about all we’re up to in our lives at this stage! Thank you for reading and keep in touch!
Reading some other stories about how travelling came to be, it occurred to me that there are lots of you out there in this spectacular world who have no idea who I am nor how I came to be a nurse and travelling Australia.
So this is our story.
Tim and I met way back in 2010 and I moved in with him in 2011. Initially we decided we would like to buy a few acres and a house somewhere on the outskirts of our hometown Albany in Western Australia.
I was working as a personal care assistant in aged care and Tim was (and is) a boilermaker working for a locally owned company. In 2011, I was offered a scholarship by my then manager to become an Enrolled Nurse. Working towards this goal, I also worked full-time while studying part time. As is required for many areas of study, I was required to attend clinical placements at hospitals so I used all my annual leave attending these full-time placements.
Tim and I loved to go away on weekends (or whenever I had a few days off, working shift work and all) and one particular weekend in 2012, we camped at Bluff Creek, a beach further up the coastline from Cheynes Beach WA. Sitting under the black sky scattered with bright stars and a warm campfire burning next to us, I realised I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in Albany paying off a mortgage having never travelled. I told Tim that I wanted to travel when I finished studying (both my Enrolled Nursing Diploma then Bachelor degree in Nursing). Tim said he would do it with me, so that night, we decided that when I had finished my degree and Tim was due his 10 year long service leave, we would pack up and become nomads. That year, so far in the future, was 2018.
For the next 6 years, I finished studying my Enrolled Nursing Diploma then my Bachelor of Nursing all the while working full time. I spent every hour of my accrued annual leave to attend clinical placements which left me feeling really exhausted and pretty burnt out. However I left aged care and began working in Mental Health, an area I have and always will be passionate about. I was extremely lucky to have a brilliant manager who encouraged and supported staff studying so I was able to attend clinical placements when offered and even travelled to the Northern Territory for a full 2 months of clinical placements in various Aboriginal communities. I had the best time of my life in those 2 months and it ignited a deep and profound respect and passion for providing health care to Indigenous communities. I had wanted to be a Remote Area Nurse for a long time and this placement cemented my goal to become one and work all around Australia.
We set a date of 17th August 2018 when we would be driving out of our driveway and on the next part of our lives. This date was quickly creeping up and we had heaps to do.
We listed all our furniture on Facebook Buy & Sell groups and were surprised at how easily and quickly we were able to sell everything. The house became more and more empty until the final night was spent on a mattress on the floor.
We had saved money and added the dosh from selling our belongings to our travel kitty. I had paid off my debts over the years and Tim had chosen a real estate to lease his house through.
I didn’t have much furniture, having given away or sold a lot of it when I moved in with Tim. However it was harder for Tim emotionally as he was selling everything he had worked hard to buy especially his beloved motorbike, couch and TV.
We had a cat Leila and dog Izzy as well. Leila has gone to live with Tim’s dad and reports back are saying Leila is loving being a lap warmer and spends her days snoozing on ‘Grandad’s’ lap or under his bed covers! Izzy is staying with Tim’s sister until we settle in Alice Springs. Tim’s sister has 4 kids, the two younger ones being at home more and are loving playing with Izzy. We feel so comforted and grateful that our pets are being cared for so well and in homes full of love and attention. Of course we could have taken Izzy with us however we really wanted to see a lot of National Parks and decided it would be kinder for Izzy to remain in Albany rather than having to spend time in random kennels while we are on the road.
So that was how we came to travel, in a nutshell. Of course there were a lot of emotions going on. I had been living back in Albany for 12 years and Tim had lived there all his life (apart from stints living away) so we were leaving friends, family and pets behind, not to forget stable jobs! However now we are on the road, we keep in touch regularly via social networking, phone calls, texts and postcards!
I’m sure many people who travel, both overseas and around Australia are often told how ‘lucky’ they are. But luck has nothing to do with it. Travelling and having the funds to travel requires a lot of work, sacrifices and dedication. For seven years while I studied both my EN and RN I never had a holiday, not to Bali, not over east, not one holiday. Tim and I took little breaks for a day or two but otherwise I was either working and studying full time and/or attending clinical placement in hospitals (full time shifts).
We both had our sights set on becoming free from the daily grind and worked hard to achieve it. Once I finish my grad year in Alice Springs, we will be back on the road picking up nursing/welding work to fund our travels.
I am sitting at my laptop at a place called Cygnet Bay on the Dampier Peninsula. It is a balmy evening and I’m sipping on icy cold apple cider, looking forward to what tomorrow brings. In a couple of days we will be doing the Gibb River Road then heading to Darwin for my graduation ceremony on the 12th October.
So if you want to travel, anywhere in the world or around your own country, you CAN do it! It doesn’t need to be expensive and you can do it on a budget. Just work hard and save as much as you can, you can always pick up work on the road if you need.
There are heaps of Facebook pages that are really informative and helpful. I have found quite a few really helpful, here are some links:
Tim is on a couch. This may seem unremarkable but it’s the first time he has been on a couch for 5 weeks and for Tim, that is a lifetime…and a half. Thanks to a person very dear to me, we are spending the night in a really nice apartment suite in Broome WA before we leave for Cape Leveque tomorrow. One of the prerequisites of booking a hotel/motel/apartment was that it HAD to have a couch, lounge, settee, sofa, a rose by any other name. For me, a microwave. Not that I’ll probably use it but it’s the things you just don’t have when camping.
ANYWAY, we are in Broome WA and Broome WA has impressed us hugely. We have spent every evening swimming at Cable Beach in calm inviting turquoise water, floating around, chatting, diving under the water and constantly appreciating being here swimming when 5 weeks ago we would be working, or studying, or just still entwined with the daily grind. I’ll get back to Broome.
We spent two nights at Cape Keraudren, a coastal reserve north of Port Hedland in East Pilbara. We camped overlooking oyster reefs where the tide came in and out twice a day. We saw a little octopus with a few missing limbs who seemed really friendly. We also loved watching the hermit crabs scuttle slowly around.
We would like to have more fond memories of Cape Keraudren but every time I look at my arms and lower thighs, I see sandfly sores, multitudes of them. We got eaten alive at Cape Keraudren! Yes, we did have Bushmans spray on but they got through the mosquito mesh of the camper trailer and attacked us as we slept. They are nasty nasty nasty little buggers! They are the itchiest itchy’s we’ve ever ever had!!
We did walk around the beach and had a beautiful swim in the water and also listened to our neighbour gently sing along with his ukulele as the sunset which was a real bonus. The view when waking up was just beautiful! So maybe Cape Keraudren wasn’t all that bad!
We aimed to get into Broome on Tuesday 18th September and were making good time until we came to Sandfire roadhouse where the rest of the highway was closed due to a bushfire. We joined truckies and other tourists who were all waiting around and hoping they could get on their way sometime soon. We sat around for a few hours but had enough so went back 40 km’s and stayed at 80 Mile Beach for the night.
Cable Beach! Oh what a hard life!
Eventually we arrived in Broome and checked into Cable Beach caravan park. We’d recommend this caravan park because of the beautiful shady trees and decent size camping sites. Upon request, we were given a site directly across from the amenities. After lunching at Zander’s on Cable Beach, we went for a drive and swim at Cable Beach then back to camp.
We got our car fully checked-over and serviced as we are doing the Gibb River Road in a week so we know it’s all schmicko to go!
The weather here has been just divine, ranging around 30-33 degrees. The past couple of days Tim and I visited Malcom Douglas’ Crocodile Farm, had a game of mini golf (which I WASN’T thrashed in, like SO WASN’T beaten by over 20 points!) then wandered around Chinatown and each had a neck/head/shoulders massage. We then had a swim again at Cable Beach and went off to the Town Beach Markets yesterday evening.
This morning I was booked in for a deep tissue massage and was slightly nervous as I’ve never had a proper body massage before. The lady led me into the room, asked me to take my shoes off then pointed to the mattress on the floor. She then left me there. I took my shoes off then stood awkwardly waiting for her to come back. I felt like Mr Bean, wondering if I should take my clothes off or wait until she tells me to. The masseuse returned, looked at the mattress then at me and laughed ‘please, take off your clothes and lie down’ and scuttled out laughing and talking in Thai about the idiot client she has to massage. The massage was amazing and I felt as loose as a goose when I left, although it hurt like fuck at some points! I think I walked like Mr Bean once it was done!
Broome has one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever encountered. It is just so chilled out and is a really nice place just to slow down and enjoy. There is so much to do during the day and in the evening. We are sad to leave but we are travellers now so must move on! Plus, I’ll apply for nursing posts here so we can enjoy it more one day!
Tomorrow we are off to Cape Leveque then will get ready to do the Gibb River Road so I’ll have some adventures to write about then!
‘So where shall I send the final bill?’ she asked. Cancelling all our subscriptions and services, we had heard this question multiple times. ‘No fixed address’ I reply ‘Email it please’.
In 66 hours, Tim and I will be itinerant with NFA. Woohoo!
Our house is getting sparse. I have one basket of clothes and three pairs of shoes. Our dog and cat are going to family while we travel to Alice Springs. Izzy the dog will be flying to Alice Springs when we settle there but Leila the cat will stay with ‘Grandad’ (Tim’s Dad).
Alice Springs. I got a nursing graduate program in Alice Springs hospital! It was my first choice so I am absolutely THRILLED to start there early next year! I have nominated to go to ED, ICU or Surgical to build my skills and knowledge so I can go on the next year to do the transition to remote area nursing program. I feel so proud to be a new staff member at Alice Springs Hospital and both Tim and I are looking forward to making new friends in the N.T.
The last few weeks I have been catching up with friends as much as possible. Tim has been getting a lot of work done to the Landcruiser and we’ve been selling and giving away furniture and belongings. Neither of us work anymore so it’s given us more time to get things ready. We’ve been cleaning the house, sorting out insurances, buying more camping stuff and finally downloaded Wikicamps Australia.
I’ve been going through a flurry of emotions ranging from excitement to nervousness but overall, I can’t wait to hit the road and get north of Perth to feel the heat. Albany has been wet wet wet so sunshine is the light we will be pursuing! A few of my dear friends bought me a St Christopher (patron saint of travellers) pendant and chain which I have not taken off (except for the photo!) and a colleague got me a pen engraved with The Scribbling Nurse.
And I got matching tattoos with a beautiful friend of mine who actually comes from Alice Springs! We drove home alternating between crying and laughing while reminiscing the years of our friendship.
Tomorrow and Thursday the rest of our furniture is being bought and collected so we will have a mattress on the floor of the lounge for the night.
I’ll be spending two nights in Busselton with one of my brothers and his family while Tim will visit his friend in Capel. On Sunday morning we will leave early and drive as far as we can to get north of Perth and to really start our journey!
So stay tuned because I’ll be updating often with lots of photos of our journey!
It’s not really. Albany I mean. It’s a beautiful town. I’ve just been listening to The Pogues a little too much. Me and Shane McGowan have similar quality teeth.
I’m saying my goodbyes, au revoirs and sayonaras to my friends and acquaintances and it’s bittersweet. Two weeks ago I had a cracking time at a local funky bistro with a group of dear friends. I looked fondly at each of them as they stuffed food into their mouths, slopped cider down their fronts and laughed with their mouths full and I felt so much love. They are people who are themselves and nothing else. Who accept me as me even though sometimes I should have been someone else. But overall, they are my mates who I share a special bond with and love to bits.
We can’t choose our family but we can choose our friends. The old cliché … and although I am leaving my friends in person, through the power of social media I can continue to irritate them by tagging them in stupid shit or naming group chat’s ‘Bunch of knobs’ (you know who you are).
As I found out when I was finishing my degree on placement in the Northern Territory, it is fun to make new friends. It is a thrill to learn about someone else, their history, plans, sense of humour… I made some new friends only being over there for a short time and I can’t wait to see them again when we get back.
I keep telling myself all of this because I am feeling nervous about the whole new chapter of our lives. I have officially resigned from my job and Tim has given his notice for his long service leave. From the 10th August, I am unemployed with no job to go to (as I know at this moment) but have made a peaceful decision to let life unfurl before me and take opportunities as they come.
I’m a controller; I like to be in control, take control and try to not lose control. But that mindset really isn’t sustainable for a future of adventure and mystery; something of which I wish for my life and Tim’s. So letting the grip loosen and becoming more accepting of what happens is a lesson I’m going to learn and hopefully appreciate.
Thank you for voting for my blog in the Bupa Blog Awards, I got an email saying my blog has been nominated so finger’s crossed when they make the decision in September! We will well and truly be on the road then so I’ll be uploading far more interesting posts but I wanted to just check in and say Hi! and that I haven’t forgotten to keep you in the loop.
Aiight. Here it is, finally. I’ve been asked oodles of times from other nursing students about tips to study externally and without forking out thousands on unnecessary stuff just because ‘you might need it’. I also swear. I like swearing and swearing likes me so if you take offence easily, pretend the cusses are just latin. Moving on.
First and foremost, I am not an expert in studying, nursing, student psychology, budgeting or even how to study externally! These are my personal techniques which have done me well however this advice should not be taken as gospel. You are unique and will have unique ways of learning so see how you go and always make sure you use resources the way you need to.
Okay, got that crap out of the way. Let’s get cracking. Rewind back to when I started studying externally through Charles Darwin University. After the initial excitement of “OMG I got into uni! I’m a uni student!’ came the ‘OMG where the f*** do I start!?’
Start with Blackboard, the online learning base which will have all your learning resources, assignment details, uploading and ‘safe assign’ bits and a CALENDAR.
Assignments: I didn’t know there was a calendar but there is and I would HIGHLY recommend using it. Go through all your units and write down when each assignment/essay is due with the unit number eg. ‘NUR244 Essay due by midnight’. Go and whack them all into the calendar so you have a visual reminder of what assignments to be working on now and what assignments can wait. You can even colour code them which is cool.
It will give you peace of mind that you are working on the essay/assignment that is due the soonest. Sounds simple yeah? But it is so easy to get worried about the ‘biiiiig assignment’ which is due in like, 6 weeks, and overlook the 500 word post that is due next Friday but contributes to 30% of your overall mark.
In the Learning Resources section there will be all the learning materials for the topics each unit is teaching. Read through these, they are easy to read and contains a lot of the information they require you to know for both assignments and exams.
Text Books: Now here’s the controversial part that some may completely disagree with: Don’t buy text books. You don’t need them. They are insanely expensive, even if you do get them second hand; and getting them second hand often means you aren’t getting the most up-to-date version which the university wants. Pffttt; I think it’s a crock of shit that you have to have the most updated version because they are 99% the same as the previous version and 99% over-priced.
The only textbook I used a lot is the Clinical Psychomotor Skills by Joanne Tollefson. And even then I had the version of about 3 years ago. I only used it to find clinical skills I could use for my Objectives and Reflections.
When you are researching for essays, use the university’s online library. They have thousands of peer-reviewed research articles which are up-to-date and *cue angels singing* FUH-REEEEEEE!!! Make sure the articles are less than 5 years old and are Australian or address issues pertinent to Australian culture. There is a filter down the left side which you can choose ‘peer-reviewed articles’ ‘Australian’ ‘published between 19xx and 20xx’.
And you know what? Use Wikipedia! Use that amazing resource but NEVER and I mean, hand on my heart, NEVAHHH reference Wikipedia or any website that cannot be verified, I’m talking about anything ending in dot com. Because you’re right, you can’t verify things even on Wikipedia. I used it simply to understand the topic and content. The good thing about Wikipedia is that it is written in layman’s terms, meaning you can understand it. But back that info up my friend. When you have a grasp of what the heck you are trying to write an essay about, go to the online peer-reviewed research articles and learn more from them. THEY will have verified information and you can reference them. The main main main thing about studying is you need to understand what you are studying. Of course you could read and memorise then spurt it out like a parrot but in many industries, if you don’t understand why, what, where, when and how then you’re not going to be very good at whatever profession you are aiming to work in, unless it’s politics. But let’s not go there.
Referencing: Okay baby, this is my gift to you. www.citethisforme.com Please and You’re Welcome. Getting referencing wrong can get you butt-whipped in terms of grading. I once lost about 10% of my overall mark for an essay because I added the first initial in in-text referencing. BECAUSE TAFE TAUGHT ME THAT WAY – Thanks TAFE. Ensure you change the referencing to the style your university requires. I had to use APA but many use Harvard and others.
And here’s another awesome tip. Many online peer-reviewed research articles have a DOI (Digital object identifier) number. Copy and paste that into ‘Journal’ when you are adding a reference and it finds the exact article for you. Sweet as.
Exams: Freak out! ARGH! Nah, calm your farm. You’ll be fine. You know why? Because everything you need to know in your exam is on Blackboard under the Learning Materials. Go into the Unit of the exam, go to the Left side and see Learning Materials and read each and every one of the power points and do each and every one of the short quizzes at the end. Those quizzes are awesome and you’ll find those questions will be in your exam. The uni isn’t going to test you on shit they haven’t taught you cos that would be like, SO UNFAIR!
There is also www.quizlet.com which is really helpful to swot up on bit and bobs. Type in the Unit code and it will show quizzes and games you can play to learn. Keep in mind that these quizzes are created by other students so some might be a bit higgledy piggledy.
I also made a page of notes to look at while waiting outside the exam room before entering. It just kept my brain refreshed.
During the exam: Do all the questions you know the answer to. Bang those ones out then go back through the questions that you kind of know the answer to but need to think a bit more. Then finally, go back over the questions you have absolutely no freaking idea even if you were paid a million bucks. Those questions are moot and you might as well close your eyes and point to an answer. It is futile to sit and stress over a question you simply don’t know the answer all the while confusing yourself when you could be using the precious time answering the questions you do know and know 100% is right (or maybe 95% hehe). Often your memory will get jolted by some questions which will help with previous questions that stumped you. So keep forging ahead. And when you have finished the exam, don’t think any more about it because why? There is nothing else you can do. You can’t ring them up and say “I just remembered the answer to question 63! Can you change it for me!” so go for a walk along the beach or meet a friend for coffee and talk about anything but the exam. Promise me? Good.
Safe Assign: It’s a program to compare essays/assignments against ones they have on file to ensure students aren’t plagiarising their submissions. It will give you a percentage of how much is similar it is to other essays it has on its data base. Unless you have copied paragraphs and know full well you’ve cheated, the similarities will mostly be the referencing and the questions or lay-out from the uni; don’t stress if it says it’s 25% comparable to others on it’s data base, it will just be that.
How many units should I study each semester?: This is completely up to you. If you have a family or full-time work or prefer to not over-burden yourself with a full-time study load (4 units a semester) then knock it back to 2-3 units. If you are really strapped for time or the quintuplets you just gave birth to are a bit high maintenance, then whack it right back to 1 unit a semester. Keep in mind that the fewer units you do each semester will prolong the course duration so see if you can do at least 2 a semester.
I also left all my clinical placement units to the end (where possible) so I saved up my annual leave to be able to attend. This also meant I didn’t have any exams or assignments due when I was on placement because I had done all the theory units.
Online lectures/classrooms: I’m not saying this to sound like a rebel but I didn’t listen to one single recorded lecture nor did I attend one online classroom because I found they were as boring as batshit and I could do the study myself. HOWEVER, you may find them beneficial and if you prefer being in a classroom to study, then attending the online classes and listening to the lectures may help you get into the swing of learning. I know people who really liked them so give it a go. As I said, your study is all about how you learn best.
Extra activities: My friend. Listen to me now. Don’t waste your precious time on doing any extra activities that are not graded. They are a waste of time and you get no thanks for them. Unless you live in utopia where all your meals are cooked, house is cleaned, a Greek god is hand-feeding you peeled grapes and your feet are getting massaged by Ryan Reynolds (or female equivalent…Blake Lively?) and you have ALL the time in the world, don’t bother with them. Just do the quizzes in the learning materials which will help you remember the crap you gotta remember to pass exams. And essays. And any other GRADED stuff.
Family, Friends and Social Life: You are at uni. You are studying to get a qualification so you can earn decent money, have job satisfaction and pave a future for you and your family. You will have to step back occasionally to study or go to prac or just sit in your car with the radio turned to max and just scream. So when you start studying, explain to everyone that you will need help and support. Don’t feel guilty. It’s not forever and you are doing it for you and your loved ones. Hubby can cook a few meals each week. The girls nights can be missed for a few months. Real friends will support your studying and not make you feel guilty for not drinking chardonnay at Emma’s place when her 6th boyfriend this year dumped her. There will be sacrifices but they are worth it (and Emma needs to find a decent bloke).
Clinical Placements: Now I’ve only studied Nursing, I’m not sure about other degree’s but it may be similar. You will need to attend onsite clinical placements as part of your degree. Some units it may be 4 weeks, some 6 weeks. But overall you’ll probably do about 5-6 months full time placement. FULL TIME. Not half a day here and half a day there. Not ‘I have to drop off and pick my kids up so I can only do 9-3’ kind of placements. You are required to be at the hospital / nursing clinic / GP clinic at the times they set. Many hospitals have shifts like 7am-3.30pm or 1pm-9.30pm or night shifts of 9pm-7.30am. You need to be sitting in that nurses office at least 5 minutes before the start of each shift and you need to stay until you finish. This is because AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) require a minimum number of placement hours in order to register you as a nurse. If you are sick, make up the day. This is where having kids can be hard but ask for help.
I used to freak out before every. single. placement. My nerves went wild and I would dread going. But once I got there, was introduced to my preceptor and started the shift, I was as happy as a pig in shit. You aren’t expected to know everything when you go to placement, you are there to learn. Be positive, engaged, ask questions and be enthusiastic. Yeah you might know how to take a full set of obs but you aren’t going to say ‘I already know how to do that, what else can I do?’. Do whatever is required to ensure you are providing comprehensive and safe patient care. Always be supervised when you are required to be. If you forget something, tell your preceptor straight away. Always report findings to your preceptor, even if they are within normal range. Communication is extremely important. Know your student scope of practice and be prepared to say ‘I can’t do that but I am keen to watch’. Don’t ever ever ever risk your degree or the patients safety by performing a task outside your scope just because ‘It was busy’ or ‘I didn’t want to say no’. You know what I’m saying.
Conclusion: This is all I can think of to write right now. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. As I said before, these are all from my personal experiences and you may find you study completely differently. I am not an experienced nurse but I am an experienced student.
‘For Heaven’s sake! Put that tray down and get the damn washing on!’. Her nasal voice boomed across the dining room and cut a diagonal slice through each of my ear drums. Resident’s paused midway through scooping porridge into their mouths and watched wide-eyed as the new carer was again being screamed at by the senior staff member. There was unease in the air as the young girl scampered across the faded linoleum and up the ramp towards the laundry; head down and tears again welling in red-lined eyes.
To say it was a baptism of fire would be an understatement. When I began working at the aged-care facility, I was already a wreck. Nursing a broken heart from a devastating end to a relationship and never having worked in aged-care, I was beyond nervous. My anxiety was at its peak and I even jumped when the automatic air-freshener sprayed. I had no idea that I would be sent even lower than I already was; by a person who was meant to be kind.
I have just read an article by Rachel Macy Stafford called ‘Am I Invisible?’ about being left out, or treated badly or just needing kindness, any sort of gentle kindness. It struck a nerve in me. Not to open old wounds but to appreciate people in my life who have shown true, unconditional kindness when I had nothing to offer back. People who found parts of my personality they liked and wished to get to know. People who didn’t know me at all but their inherent personal qualities of treating people with kindness and compassion shone out of them like morning sunbeams over the ocean.
There is one person out there, maybe two, three, ten, two dozen? But at least one person who has held their hand out when you were lying on your back, pinned down by insecurities, circumstances and devoid of energy to try to get back up by yourself.
I stood behind the laundry sobbing. Sobbing and sobbing. ‘Why me? I am trying my best! I don’t know what I don’t know!’ The sound of the back door opening and the rustle of wheelie frames being ushered noisily inside sparked me to wipe my tears, blow my nose and blink heavily, trying to less redden the red in my eyes.
Day in, day out I was screamed at, told I was ‘hopeless’ ‘useless’ and ‘a wonder I was ever employed because I wouldn’t be for long’. I was set up to fail by being asked to perform tasks she knew I had no idea of how to do but knowing I was too terrified to ask for help. I would go home and feel empty; no tears were left, no strength was had and no future was I looking forward to. Except the days I would drive into work and see a familiar car parked in the familiar spot. The other senior staff member was on shift and it was going to be a good day.
Tonia (pseudonym) was the absolute opposite of the other staff member and to me, in my current broken state, she was an angel. She greeted every staff member by name and let the staff organise themselves in the morning. And to top it all off, she cared deeply for her colleagues of whom she was fiercely protective. I was often rattled at work but kept it together to provide care to the people I was there to support. However, every day I was on with Tonia, she would stop me as I scarpered up and down the hallways and hug me. A big, warm, long hug. And she would whisper to me “You are doing a great job, never forget that, you are doing a brilliant job”. These moments slowly built my confidence and with the camaraderie between myself and the other carers, work got less traumatic and more enjoyable.
Unbeknownst to me, the manager was addressing the issue with the other staff member. The other staff had been reporting what was happening to not only me but other new carers and things were happening.
Personally, I decided that I would not be a victim. I would not let the nasty insecurities of one person affect me so deeply because I was giving her power. So I made a promise to my soul that I would never again let someone make me feel like that. And I would never make someone else feel like that. I worked hard at that job; really hard. And was offered a nursing scholarship a few years later.
The other day I had breakfast with the colleagues who were so supportive at that job. Four women who I will always love and admire because they suffered as well. And we laugh, hug, tease each other but most of all, have a deep respect for each other that you can see as we look at each other with admiration and kindness.
You see, you don’t have to ‘stand up for the underdog’ all the time. You just need to be compassionate. Often a kind word or gesture can be all it takes to remind someone struggling that ‘things will be okay’.
I will always strive to be like Tonia. I don’t think I’ll ever get to her level but if I come even slightly close, I will be happy.