Will you be joining us at the 2024 Remote Nursing & Midwifery Conference?
23-25 October 2024, Naarm/Melbourne. We are now accepting abstract submissions. Click here to learn more or to register and access the early-bird discount.

A tropical transition to remote

3 Dec 2021

We catch up with Madison Clark, RN with the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service, to find out what it’s like to work near ‘the most beautiful beaches’, witness the impacts of health promotion first-hand, and feel warmly welcomed by community.

Cairns local and reg­is­tered nurse Madi­son Clark first head­ed remote in March 2021, when she com­menced a three-month tran­si­tion to remote prac­tice in Lock­hart Riv­er through the Tor­res and Cape Hos­pi­tal and Health Service.

I’ve always being inter­est­ed in Indige­nous health and the strug­gles Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties face in regard to chron­ic ill­ness­es and liv­ing in remote loca­tions and not hav­ing access to the same kind of health­care you have in a city,” Madi­son says.

I spoke to one of the edu­ca­tors before going up [to Lock­hart Riv­er] and told her remote nurs­ing was some­thing I real­ly want­ed to do, but that I wasn’t ful­ly com­fort­able being a clin­i­cal nurse in remote envi­ron­ment, which is when she offered me the tran­si­tion program.

I went there are as a reg­is­tered nurse and I was super­nu­mer­ary, so I was very well sup­port­ed the whole time. The DON and CNs have been real­ly incred­i­ble in help­ing us to get lots of learn­ing opportunities.”

Since Lock­hart Riv­er, Madi­son has worked in Bam­a­ga and had just com­menced work­ing on Thurs­day Island at time of writ­ing. The expe­ri­ence and sup­port of sur­round­ing staff and man­age­ment has con­tin­ued to impress her.

The nurse edu­ca­tors are love­ly,” she says.

Before I came to TI, I want­ed to do a Triage course and they made that hap­pen. When in Lock­hart, they flew me home for a week to com­plete a num­ber of courses.”

Madi­son notes that remote health employ­ment isn’t all a bed of ros­es. She says iso­la­tion and miss­ing fam­i­ly events can be chal­leng­ing, but that her six weeks on, two weeks off arrange­ment allows her to spend val­ued time with loved ones.

Even dur­ing her stints away, she says You’d be sur­prised how quick­ly the com­mu­ni­ty turns into home, and how easy it is to make friends.

By the end of it you feel like you’re a part of the com­mu­ni­ty,” she says. Peo­ple come in and they know who you are. You go to the shops and peo­ple will have a chat to you.

When I was in Lock­hart, every­one was very invit­ing. I got to go down to the beach with some of the Elder women. They showed me how to make woven bas­kets out of pan­danus leaves – cut­ting, burn­ing, weaving.

As we were doing it, they’d be telling us sto­ries about old Lockhart.

There was one old­er lady who has a bit of demen­tia who I fell in love with while I was up there. I think she was gor­geous. She said: you’re doing it wrong’, took the knife from me and start­ed doing it. My heart dropped. She’ll end up in the clin­ic with her fin­ger off, I thought – but she did it so well. I was so impressed.

The thing I real­ly enjoy about work­ing with small com­mu­ni­ties is that you get to see the impact you’re mak­ing in someone’s life… In PHCs, clients come in reg­u­lar­ly and you see that what you’re teach­ing them is work­ing; they’re doing it. Then you see them out­side of work, too – it’s real­ly nice.”

Madi­son says her favourite aspects of the role include the scope of prac­tice, the auton­o­my, and the respon­si­bil­i­ty of work­ing among a team of skilled nurs­es in a set­ting where doc­tors are not always present, but rather dialled in via TV screen dur­ing cer­tain emer­gen­cies. She savours the diver­si­ty of work­ing alter­nate­ly in PHC set­tings and hospitals.

Mean­while, out­side of work hours, she enjoys soak­ing up the Tip and the Islands.

I’m look­ing out of my bal­cony at the moment,” she says. There’s a beach and the ocean is dead-flat. It’s hot and humid. It’s an island paradise.

Since start­ing on Thurs­day Island, I’ve become friends with one of my room­mates. We all go for a walk down to the beach, to the pub to get din­ner, to the cof­fee shop for a cof­fee and a donut – there’s so much to do here.

On my days off in Lock­hart, we had access to a car, and me and my friends went down to Chilli Beach before work most morn­ings. It’s one of the most beau­ti­ful beach­es I’ve ever been to… In Bam­a­ga, I spent a short hol­i­day camp­ing with friends on the Old Tele­graph Track in the four-wheel dri­ve of a nurse who had dri­ven up.”

Since work­ing in the region she has also start­ed fish­ing for the first time and has already caught a coral trout so large she couldn’t reel it up from the depths herself.

When asked how she sees the next five years pan­ning out, Madi­son says that for her, it’s remote all the way and that she may look to upskill through post-grad­u­ate stud­ies in emer­gency nurs­ing to pre­pare for very remote PHCs.

Since start­ing with Tor­res and Cape, what has struck me is how wel­com­ing the com­mu­ni­ty are of hav­ing good health work­ers come in, and how trust­ing they can be of peo­ple as well,” Madi­son says.

She advis­es nurs­es who are eager to pur­sue remote health to con­tact the Tor­res and Cape Hos­pi­tal and Health Ser­vice and see what posi­tions they have avail­able to suit your skills.”

You can take the first step towards a career in remote nurs­ing by email­ing TCHHS-​NursingMidwifery-​Recruitment@​health.​qld.​gov.​au