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Student story: earning independence

3 Apr 2022

University of Notre Dame nursing student Jennifer Kuppens discusses how her placement in Kununurra District Hospital improved her time-management skills, confidence and ability to prioritise patients, by exposing her to a wide range of presentations including MVAs, domestic violence and alcohol and drug use.

5 The view over town

My place­ment at the Kununur­ra Dis­trict Hos­pi­tal has been such an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence. I have learnt so much and met such gor­geous peo­ple along the way. 

I was placed in the emer­gency depart­ment where I was able to prac­tise my crit­i­cal care nurs­ing skills and expand my knowl­edge and skills by observ­ing and learn­ing from my reg­is­tered nurse pre­cep­tors. I have always had an inter­est in remote area nurs­ing, as I am not from the city myself. This place­ment has rein­forced my desire to work in remote areas around Australia. 

Giv­en this was my first remote, crit­i­cal care nurs­ing place­ment, I was super excit­ed but slight­ly ner­vous. I flew up to Kununur­ra, in the East Kim­ber­ley, on a three-and-a-half-hour flight to find myself on the oppo­site side of West­ern Aus­tralia in beau­ti­ful warm weath­er, in a small coun­try town. 

2 An outback oasis

Being in Kununur­ra, I was liv­ing and work­ing along­side a high pop­u­la­tion of Indige­nous Aus­tralians. This meant I was able to apply the knowl­edge I learnt dur­ing the semes­ter into prac­tice. My cho­sen two elec­tive units through­out my last semes­ter of my nurs­ing degree were Rur­al and Remote Health and Mater­nal Care. I believe every nurs­ing stu­dent should study Rur­al and Remote Health as it is so impor­tant to know how to care for each and every per­son that walks through the hospital.

Through­out my time in the emer­gency depart­ment, I was exposed to a num­ber of dif­fer­ent cas­es, such as motor vehi­cle acci­dents, skin sores and burns, COVID-19 pre­cau­tions, bro­ken bones, fam­i­ly domes­tic vio­lence, chest pain, sports injuries, alco­hol and drug mis­use, injuries tak­en place on hikes and gorges, and var­i­ous oth­er cas­es that pre­sent­ed to the emer­gency depart­ment. This vari­ety of cas­es allowed me to prac­tise dif­fer­ent skills, work­ing with­in my scope of practice.

I believe this place­ment has allowed me to grow pro­fes­sion­al­ly and devel­op inde­pen­dence. It has strength­ened my time-man­age­ment skills, my con­fi­dence and my abil­i­ty to pri­ori­tise patients as necessary. 

3 The edgeless pool at Lake Argyle

On the week­ends I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore the East Kim­ber­ley and the beau­ti­ful places it has to offer. El Que­stro Wilder­ness Park is only a short dri­ve from Kununur­ra town, and is filled with beau­ti­ful gorges and springs. Lake Argyle is only a short dri­ve away, too.

I felt very com­fort­able and sup­port­ed through­out this place­ment, which is so impor­tant, as being in a new, unfa­mil­iar town away from home can be quite daunt­ing. Work­ing in the emer­gency depart­ment was both ful­fill­ing and chal­leng­ing at times, although I believe the high­light of this expe­ri­ence was my abil­i­ty to grow as a per­son, pro­fes­sion­al­ly and per­son­al­ly. I feel my con­fi­dence and inde­pen­dence has grown sig­nif­i­cant­ly while being in Kununur­ra. This place­ment was such an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence and I hope to find myself work­ing in Kununur­ra in my future as a Reg­is­tered Nurse.

1 Kununurra sunset