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CRANAcast: Recordings for the Road
The CRANAplus Podcast on all things remote health.
Welcome to CRANAcast, the remote health podcast produced by CRANAplus.
This podcast is all about telling the stories of the remote health workforce. Every episode, a nurse, midwife, or health professional comes onto the show to share their experiences of working in rural and remote Australia.
CRANAcast is designed for you to listen to on the plane, in the car between clinics, or during your downtime. Download it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast app so you can tune in even when you’re out of range.
More episodes coming soon.
After some time spent as a Clinical Nurse Manager in the Gascoyne region of WA, Anita Tamowicz has recently come back to nursing: a career she adores though never pictured herself pursuing. In this episode, Anita shares her unconventional journey into remote health via an Anthropology thesis; why listening to and building rapport with each patient is critical in achieving positive health outcomes; and her love of small community camaraderie and “learning to love the simple things”.
Over the last 12 years, Keppel has supported hundreds of remote health professionals gain confidence in their maternity skills as a CRANAplus course facilitator. Keppel is a “country boy at heart” who has basked in the glow of many a Jabiru sunset, and although other commitments have him temporarily side-lined from remote health practice, volunteering as a facilitator has enabled him to stay engaged in the sector. Here he discusses “crossing the divide” to become an educator, helicopter retrievals in locations without runways, and working near outback holiday destinations.
Sheryl Alexander RN RM immerses us in her journey from psychiatric nursing in Tasmania to outreach midwifery in the Northern Territory. Throughout her career she’s found herself “falling into fantastic jobs and loving them” and has learned to “provide the service [clients] want, not the service I think they should have.” Here, she talks about midwifery group practice, participating in cultural events via invitation, and making ante- and post-natal education fun (think tie-dye singlets and exotic fruit).
Clinical Midwifery Manager Glenda Gleeson, who works in Central Australia, encourages anyone thinking about transitioning to remote health to “step out and give it a go” with the right preparation. Glenda recalls her own fulfilling journey from RN to remote midwifery and shares what it is like to be part of the passionate Maternal and Women’s Health team providing health promotion and care to remote communities across Central Australia. Through Glenda’s stories, you’ll hear memories of travelling across the amazing countryside, gratitude for gaining insight into Aboriginal culture, along with her top tips on how to prepare for going remote.
An “outside the box” approach is needed to fill the gaps in our current healthcare system, says Di Thornton RN and endorsed NP. With almost fifty years of nursing experience up her sleeve, Di shares her passionate views on the value of nurse practitioners and takes us into her world of owning and operating a health clinic in Pinnaroo, in the Murray Mallee region of SA.
Lorraine Woods, Far North Queensland Midwife and recipient of the 2022 Ray Wyeth Early to Remote Practice Award shares her passion for remote health and some advice for entering “a field of lifelong learning”. In this episode, she deep dives into the role of a clinically endorsed midwife; what it’s like in Weipa; the launch of the Weipa Birthing Project; and some tips and encouragement for those considering a remote midwifery career.
Deep within the Cairns Hinterland, Wendy responds to emergencies, manages and prescribes medications for chronic illness, and assists community members to navigate the healthcare system. In this wide-ranging episode, she recalls the days of starched white uniforms and red capes when nurses smoked by the bedside; working with a diverse permanent and itinerant client base; the calming properties of landscapes that are “green everywhere”; and the antics of the world’s biggest lace monitor.
Seeking a new challenge and a career change after 20 years of emergency care, Lorraine Harry shares her experience of transitioning to remote health, and why she fell in love with it. In this episode, Lorraine reflects on her career and the past five years as Quality & Safety Officer at Mala’la Aboriginal Health Service, Maningrida in the heart of Arnhem Land. Listen in to hear some of the ways her community are working together to address challenges and improve health outcomes in the region; important skills and attributes of being a Clinical Educator; the best parts of Lorraine’s role; and a heartfelt moment from her first remote health experience, that she says she’ll never forget.
Arrernte woman and RN with 26 years of experience, Kellie Kerin shares her journey to her present role with AMSANT, from her grad year in Geelong Hospital to bush nursing in communities, opal mining towns and outback stations. Also in this episode, Kellie talks reuniting with her heritage, lessons in cooking barramundi, how changes in Government could open new doors, the need for truth-telling and language in education, the value of clinical supervision, and a vision she had as a student — which later came real.
In episode 10 we hear from Tess, last year’s Aurora Award winner, nurse practitioner and chronic disease coordinator in the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands – 100,000 square kilometres tucked in the northwest corner of South Australia. Despite being “ready to retire years ago” Tess says remote nursing can be hard to let go of. Listen in to hear stories from Tess’s current role; how social determinants of health are impacting remote communities; and what “putting on her robe” means and how it has helped her professionally and personally.
Fixated from a young age on helping people, in this episode, we meet Theona who kicked off her nursing career in Rockhampton; now a leading Nurse Practitioner at the Cairns Hospital, and a member of Australian Medical Assistance Teams (AUSMAT) Theona is deployed at short notice to provide support to international communities facing humanitarian crises. Theona discusses where her passion for helping came from, what it means to be a Nurse Practitioner, and playing a “small part in the jigsaw” through partnership, capacity building and assistance, in her work at AUSMAT.
A remote area nurse with a love of all things skin, Sheena commenced her remote health journey with a rocky start. “I rolled my car avoiding hitting an eagle… [Then] rocked up to the hospital in white brace overalls covered in pindan and straw, and knocked on the door and proudly announced that I was their new nurse!” Inspired by a case of squamous cell carcinoma that fell through the cracks, Sheena completed her Graduate Certificate of Medicine while working full time. She now provides skin checks and has “wrestled people down in trains” to check out questionable spots. She also discusses how she’s achieving a high level of male engagement, cultural learnings, and the art of “bodging” in resource-light settings.
Student nurses from Western Australia and members of WAALHIIBE (Western Australian Allied Health Interested in Bush Experience), Kate, Mekayla and Jasmine, discuss their clinical placements and first impressions of remote nursing. Hear from them on working towns with 10 residents, “picking a hospital I’d never heard of before”, approaching remote nursing as a “city kid”, using the hospital landline to contact family, the underappreciated skill of bed making, community integration (e.g., coaching swimming, harvesting), and how placements can “make you feel confident, not scared”.
Lead Clinical Coordinator at RAHC, Jennine Lavender, has been working rural since the 80s. Initially, she planned on staying in Narrogin for 6 months, but after falling in love with a local farmer, she ended up working in the same hospital for the next 30 years. In 2011, a “midlife crisis” inspired her to take up a job on Christmas Island, kickstarting her journey into truly remote areas. Now for RAHC, she helps people to make the “mind shift” from acute care to the business of “helping people find their way to good health”. She also talks about how seeing people at their most vulnerable can develop or threaten a nurse’s resilience, and what she learned while fishing with a visiting specialist.
A cattle station cook in her youth, Yuwaalaraay woman Dallas McKeown followed in her mother’s footsteps to become an EN — a move that would eventually lead to her current position as CRANAplus’ Exec. Director of First Peoples Strategies. In this episode, she discusses how her experiences have provided motivation along the way. Observing acute illness at RDH, she decided to venture into the world of primary health care and health promotion — where she campaigned on pneumococcal, influenza and smoking, experienced overt racism, and learned that “sometimes there’s nobody else but you to pick up whatever comes through the door”.
In a small east East Pilbara community, eight metres of flood water laps at the clinic driveway. The phone starts ringing. At a nearby goldmine, across the floodwaters, a 50-year-old man is unresponsive. “You have to do what you can with what you’ve got,” RN and Nurse Practitioner Chris’ recalls in this wide-ranging episode, which also features: sending an injured Joey to the vet via school bus, packing a knife sharpener, swimming with manta rays, how a busy work environment makes cruelty too easy, and the relationship-building benefits of baking.
RNs Rachel and Gaby discuss their clinical placements in Groote Eylandt/Gove & Tennant Creek. Rachel “always had this longing” to be a remote nurse and has since moved her family from Newcastle to Katherine; whereas an accidental opportunity led Gaby to witness the need for support where there’s “not enough people doing it”. The duo illuminate what it’s like to fall in love with “patients, stories, culture, everything” and explore the unusual working conditions of “giving depot injections with a litter of puppies at your feet”. Plus, they give their tips on the best mobile networks, packing favourite foods, and never underestimating distances.
RAN Shelley talks about her six years of remote practice to date, since leaving the urban ICU/emergency rat race. She talks about learning to suture and plaster cast, supporting a man returning from jail to regain his place in community, the value of living with her partner, and becoming a “vault” of local community knowledge. She also touches on seeing people from the clinic outside of work, the workload calling for “2 or 3 of me”, and going without TV for several weeks when the TV breaks down.
A nurse for over 37 years, Sue was among the first group of remote area nurses to receive university-based training. In our first episode of CRANAcast, she reflects on working remote while bringing up her baby; that one time the food truck delivered quail; cutting her own hair; and “becoming so laissez-faire about everything, when you finally come to town, it’s a totally different pace and existence.” She also shares her thoughts on continuous upskilling, adjusting your expectations, and the impact of tragedy in tight-knit communities.