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Flexibility proves key on clinical placement
Connie Hierl, a 3rd year Bachelor of Nursing student at Griffith University in Southport, has discovered firsthand how nurses working in remote areas need to be flexible in an ever-changing environment.
This is Connie’s student scholarship report following her placement at Beswick (Wugularr) in the Northern Territory.
Having learnt about indigenous health and primary healthcare within my nursing degree, I was familiar with the issues of health disparities and the factors that affect the health and wellbeing in this population. However, I did not realise how invaluable my experience in a remote community setting would be.
I recently completed my two-week student-nursing placement in Beswick (Wugularr) in the Northern Territory, a small indigenous community 110 kilometres south-east of Katherine. Being able to consolidate theory into practice has enriched my understanding of primary healthcare; and the importance of partnerships amongst the primary healthcare team, allied health and outreach services. In addition, the people were very welcoming and I found that indigenous folk have an admirable openness and non-judgemental nature; I instantly felt a strong sense of community spirit and bond between family and land.
Being able to consolidate theory into practice has enriched my understanding of primary healthcare…
As a result, my placement has been truly invaluable, both on a personal and professional level. The remote area nurses at the Beswick Health Centre, a community-controlled Sunrise Health Service predominantly facilitated my learning. These nurses were inspirational. Their clinical expertise, awareness and value of indigenous culture along with their desire to optimise health and wellness within their community was displayed with each and every client encounter, hence contributing to closing the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Through their guidance and support I feel more confident and competent in my clinical and assessment skills, and was able to experience many new learning opportunities that cannot be obtained in an acute setting. Within a remote setting, nurses are more autonomous and need to be flexible in an ever-changing environment. I found this aspect of remote nursing extremely interesting as I was able to consult with different age groups, ranging from assessing the development of an infant to the complexities of chronic disease processes in older age groups.
Within a remote setting, nurses are more autonomous and need to be flexible in an ever-changing environment.
Within this time I was also fortunate enough to be present during health screenings and consultations by visiting healthcare professionals. A visiting midwife from the town of Katherine taught me the importance of physical, mental, social and environmental assessments during the antenatal period and the value of health education with the use of culturally appropriate learning tools. I learnt about the implications of middle ear and throat infections from the Ear, Nose and Throat team and how they assess for hearing loss in adults and children, and gained insight into the important role of the Volatile Substance Abuse team. I also gained some insight into indigenous culture (only scratching the surface) by talking to the Aboriginal Health Practitioners and community members, and I felt privileged to personally meet one of Wugularr’s most famous artists.
I would like to extend a warm thank you to Sunrise Health Services for facilitating this awesome learning experience and to CRANAplus for my remote scholarship, which has helped me to afford such a wonderful experience. It will forever be ingrained in my memory.
I strongly recommend students pursue a remote placement such as this; the experience has enriched my knowledge and exceeded my expectations.