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Smitten by life in Esperance

1 Jun 2021

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.