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Revelations at One Arm Point

24 Apr 2016

3rd Year Bachelor of Nursing Student at Uni SA, Rory McGrath-Swan shares his story of 'a great opportunity'. A stint at One Arm Point, about 200 kilometres north of Broome on the Dampier Peninsula, has reinforced his aspiration to one day ‘go remote’.

It didn’t take me long to accept a place­ment at the North­ern and Remote Coun­try Health Ser­vice in the com­mu­ni­ty of One Arm Point. I knew it would be a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to not only fur­ther my learn­ing in yet anoth­er area of nurs­ing but to spend time in what I con­sid­er to be one of Australia’s most unique and beau­ti­ful regions, the Kimberleys.

A vis­it back in 2008 to the Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ty of Tjun­tjun­t­jara in remote West­ern Aus­tralia and a stint liv­ing in West­ern Australia’s far north­ern town of Kununur­ra stirred my inter­est in rural/​remote health and more specif­i­cal­ly in areas where Indige­nous peo­ple make up a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion. On these trips, I was exposed not only to the lifestyle of Australia’s rur­al towns and com­mu­ni­ties, but to the com­plex­i­ties of Indige­nous health and health deliv­ery in remote areas.
Since start­ing my nurs­ing stud­ies at the Uni­ver­si­ty of South Aus­tralia in 2011, I have main­tained a keen inter­est in Indige­nous health and have remained eager to prac­tice as a nurse with­in rur­al and remote set­tings in Aus­tralia. So, as my final place­ment approached, I began to think of ways to make it the most ben­e­fi­cial and excit­ing expe­ri­ence pos­si­ble. I knew sev­er­al peo­ple who had man­aged to gain place­ments in remote loca­tions and could think of noth­ing more excit­ing than to con­clude my final place­ment in a remote community.

…it was also a fan­tas­tic chance to immerse myself as much as pos­si­ble in the local com­mu­ni­ty and all that this has to offer: a great deal of which revolves around fishing!

Per­haps most sig­nif­i­cant in terms of expo­sure for myself was learn­ing so much about the dynam­ics of not only the com­mu­ni­ty clin­ic but also the com­mu­ni­ty itself. Due to the size of the com­mu­ni­ty, just 300 – 400 peo­ple, rela­tion­ships both inter-pro­fes­sion­al and casu­al often over­lap. This par­tic­u­lar char­ac­ter­is­tic, unique to work­ing in rur­al or remote areas, cre­ates a very par­tic­u­lar work­ing and liv­ing envi­ron­ment that we can be unac­cus­tomed to when com­ing from the more urban areas of the coun­try.

At the clin­ic I was lucky enough to be work­ing with two high­ly com­pe­tent nurs­es who hold a wealth of knowl­edge in regards to clin­i­cal nurs­ing in remote loca­tions. If there was one thing that this expe­ri­ence impart­ed on me, it was the respon­si­bil­i­ties that are placed on the remote nurse. With­out doc­tors or oth­er allied health pro­fes­sion­als present on a dai­ly or reg­u­lar basis, remote nurs­es must func­tion with an increased inde­pen­dence. With this increase in inde­pen­dence comes a huge increase in respon­si­bil­i­ty. I left this place­ment with the under­stand­ing that to be a remote nurse there are cer­tain expec­ta­tions in place regard­ing knowl­edge and skills – often far vaster than for their coun­ter­parts in the urban environment.

To be an effec­tive and effi­cient remote nurse is a great aspi­ra­tion and I look for­ward to giv­ing it a shot one day.