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Student story: Consolidating skills in ED

9 Dec 2022

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.