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Multiple positive experiences in Indigenous Health

9 Dec 2016

Indigenous health has always been a passion for Katarina Samotna, a 3rd Year Bachelor of Nursing student at Charles Darwin University. And her recent placement in the remote Indigenous communities of Haasts Bluff and Titjikala in the Northern Territory and at Alice Springs Hospital (ASH) has cemented her commitment.

This four-month place­ment entire­ly exceed­ed my expectations. 

The remote area nurs­es at Haasts Bluff and Titjikala, who pro­vide pri­ma­ry health care and pri­ma­ry clin­i­cal care for approx­i­mate­ly 200 com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, are high­ly edu­cat­ed and expe­ri­enced nurs­es with out­stand­ing clin­i­cal skills. Dur­ing my place­ment, I felt very sup­port­ed and com­fort­able, and gained a lot of under­stand­ing and knowl­edge from these nurses.

I learned and prac­ticed a vari­ety of skills, such as health assess­ments, run­ning patient con­sul­ta­tions, pre­scrib­ing and dis­pens­ing med­ica­tion, admin­is­ter­ing vac­ci­na­tions, sutur­ing, organ­is­ing med­ical evac­u­a­tions and retrievals, per­form­ing child health assess­ments and ante­na­tal exam­i­na­tions, and chron­ic dis­ease man­age­ment. All these expe­ri­ences and the pro­fes­sion­al ben­e­fits of work­ing in remote areas, such as greater auton­o­my and respon­si­bil­i­ty, sparked my desire to become a Remote Area Nurse.

I gained mul­ti­ple pos­i­tive expe­ri­ences from this place­ment, which have influ­enced my prac­tice. For exam­ple, I devel­oped excel­lent cross-cul­tur­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills when deal­ing with Indige­nous clients. This is a valu­able asset to my future prac­tice as I am plan­ning to work in remote Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties after my graduation.

My skills in assess­ing the patients’ health have also sig­nif­i­cant­ly improved, as I devel­oped con­fi­dence in res­pi­ra­to­ry assess­ment, aus­cul­ta­tion, and eye and ear exam­i­na­tion. I had sev­er­al oppor­tu­ni­ties to run patient con­sul­ta­tions, becom­ing more sys­tem­at­ic when obtain­ing patients’ med­ical his­to­ry and record­ing it in the progress notes. Also, I learned how to assess the patients’ symp­toms effec­tive­ly and iden­ti­fy their diag­no­sis, includ­ing the most suit­able med­ica­tion required. Hence my knowl­edge of phar­ma­col­o­gy sig­nif­i­cant­ly improved.

At ASH, I worked close­ly with Abo­rig­i­nal health prac­ti­tion­ers to devel­op cul­tur­al com­pe­tence when deal­ing with Indige­nous clients. I joined the Alco­hol and Oth­er Drugs team, expe­ri­enced retrieval med­i­cine with the Roy­al Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice, and par­tic­i­pat­ed in health pro­mo­tion and edu­ca­tion pro­grams for Indige­nous youth in remote com­mu­ni­ties. For exam­ple, in Haasts Bluff, the ini­tial inter­est in the com­mu­ni­ty ser­vices is to take Abo­rig­i­nal chil­dren and youth for a trip into a bush, and so pre­vent them from bore­dom. Also, this activ­i­ty might increase their desire to be phys­i­cal­ly active, which might pre­vent them from devel­op­ing chron­ic con­di­tions, such as obe­si­ty, hyper­ten­sion, and dia­betes. Fur­ther­more, spend­ing all day out­side, in the bush, empha­sis­es Abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture and their spir­i­tu­al con­nec­tion with the land and nature.

I also realised that engage­ment with the com­mu­ni­ty is the most effi­cient strat­e­gy deal­ing with iso­la­tion, when work­ing in very remote set­tings. I am now con­fi­dent that these expe­ri­ences have pro­vid­ed me with the knowl­edge and skills required to work with Indige­nous peo­ple in remote and rur­al set­tings as a well-round­ed and qual­i­fied Reg­is­tered Nurse.

I would like to sin­cere­ly thank CRANAplus for sup­port­ing me with the costs of under­tak­ing this won­der­ful clin­i­cal place­ment experience.