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A selection of stories from our CRANApulse magazine written by remote health professionals or students during their clinical placement
Smitten by life in Esperance
Verity Lee, who studied at Edith Cowan University in Bunbury Western Australia, says her six-week placement in Esperance in WA was the perfect way to complete her Registered Nursing degree. Here’s her glowing report of the Esperance lifestyle.
COVID had robbed me of the opportunity to do an international prac placement, and inter-regional borders had closed the week before my previous regional placement in Carnarvon was due to start. So I was keen to explore and see what working in a remote location would be like.
In October last year, I found myself in Esperance, an eight-hour drive from Perth and four hours to Kalgoorlie. Without meaning to sound like a promotional cheerleader, Esperance is a gem. It is remote, but with all the creature comforts such as cafes with good coffee, a brewery serving craft beers and wood-fired pizza, a thriving arts and live music scene, and a diverse community with as many designer prams as independent 85-year-olds on gophers rolling down the main street.
The sun rises and sets over beautiful beaches of every description: wild, rugged, consistent surf and lagoons with the bluest of aqua greens. It is a camping, fishing, hiking, island-hopping and 4WD heaven. The weather during our stay in late spring was really four seasons in one day, alternating between wind and rain that felt like it was straight from the Antarctic, to winds straight from the central Australian desert, dispersed with blue, sunny, beach perfect days.
Servicing a rural, agricultural, mining, fishing, tourism and port town, the hospital emergency department was much busier than I anticipated. During the first weeks, I was like an emu in the headlights as I got my head around the unpredictable rhythm of an emergency department (ED). I watched the ED staff manage the usual mix of chest pain and elderly “not- feeling-quite-right” juggled with children with broken limbs and toddlers with bronchiolitis.
There were daily reminders that we were no longer in urban areas with a few snake and tick bites, multiple bee stings to faces, and farmers with tea towels around their hands needing sutures and a tetanus injection.
Dispersed through normal days, the highly skilled team step up into trauma mode, with car accidents, pneumothorax from workers falling off silos, epilepsy and anaphylaxis requiring intubation, through to drug and alcohol fuelled injuries requiring Royal Flying Doctor Service flights. I enjoyed the variety that I would not have experienced in an urban ED. It also provided me with opportunities to get the low-down from other nurses who have worked remotely – making me hungry for more adventures.
What really impressed me was the teamwork when all hands on deck were required.
The volunteer ambos, on-call doctors, radiologists and pathologists who came in after hours, often for the umpteenth time that week, with tiredness but a sense of service to the community.
Thank you Esperance hospital staff and CRANAplus for giving me the opportunity to step away from the routines of the city and immerse myself in the Esperance lifestyle. It didn’t take long to be recognised down at the shops and the pub and feel a little bit like a local. It’s a funky little town a long way from anywhere and has set the tone for my career – I’m smitten and I will be back.