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Revelations at One Arm Point
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.