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Student story: Consolidating skills in ED
Edith Cowan University undergraduate nursing student Chris Mattiaccio escaped a cold wet winter to undertake an experience of a lifetime in WA’s northwest. There he found blowholes and breathtaking views by the beach, while embracing the opportunity to learn from diverse practitioners and patients in the bustle of Carnavon’s ED.
This CRANAplus Undergraduate Remote Placement Scholarship was sponsored by HESTA.
I have always found the remoteness and expansiveness of the northwest of Western Australia a unique and quintessentially Australian environment. So, when offered the opportunity for a four-week registered nursing practicum placement at Carnarvon ED, it was an opportunity that I was not going to miss. Currently residing in the southwest of Western Australia, I welcomed a break from the cold, wet winter in June/July. It was well worth the two-day drive north.
Upon arrival to Carnarvon, I was welcomed by the sight of the now disused but iconic 30m radio dish, once used to communicate with NASA space flights. The weather was superb, especially compared to the southwest, and I had been provided with comfortable share-house accommodation, courtesy of WA Country Health Service (WACHS), for a subsidised amount.
Upon my first orientation shift, I was welcomed by a very friendly ED team made up mostly of non-residents and agency staff, working in a small, but relatively modern and well-equipped setting. The varied backgrounds of the workforce offered a great opportunity to draw knowledge from different experiences and training. I also quickly noticed the broad range of patients that were presenting, with many tourists travelling north during the colder months, children on school holidays, and Indigenous Australians living both in town and further afield.
With health resources stretched in the current climate, the emergency department also tended to everyday healthcare problems such as regular wound dressings and blood tests. This made for a practicum experience where I was able to learn from acute medical emergencies as well as consolidate skills that I had learnt on previous placements.
Given my current stage five progression, I was able to perform and practise almost all the skills that were currently within my scope of practice, which was very satisfying. I quickly began to realise the importance that the emergency department played in the role of a remote community, where services are limited, and many parts of the community feel disenfranchised in relation to health care. I found it very satisfying to be able to assist the community in a meaningful and tangible way while learning the importance that education plays in places where health literacy is low.
I was fortunate enough to have the weekends off to myself which enabled me to really explore the area. The sunset over the ocean, while the blowholes are erupting, is an experience that must be witnessed.
An overnight trip to the Kennedy Ranges a few hours inland was also something that was truly spectacular, as fantastic photo opportunities await if you are prepared to hike to the top! Sipping on a morning coffee in the beautiful Fascine Bay area in town is magic, as is a beer in the same spot as the sun is setting over the water.
A fabulous practicum placement experience was made even more accessible through a reimbursement scholarship funded by CRANAplus. If you get the opportunity for work or placement in Carnarvon, make sure you consider it; it’s a valuable learning experience on many levels.
Visit Awards, Scholarships & Grants to learn more about grants and scholarships available through CRANAplus.