Will you be joining us at the 2024 Remote Nursing & Midwifery Conference?
23-25 October 2024, Naarm/Melbourne. We are now accepting abstract submissions. Click here to learn more or to register and access the early-bird discount.

Student story: ICU nursing in Alice Springs

8 Aug 2022

CDU student Madaleine Ellsmore’s placement in Alice Springs ICU allowed her to familiarise with new interventions, participate in difficult family discussions, learn from skilled mentors — and even to plunge into usually dry waterholes in her free time.

I have been liv­ing in the Top End of the NT for sev­er­al years now and love all that I have learnt about the cul­ture and lifestyle up here. How­ev­er, I was yet to have explored Cen­tral NT. So, when an oppor­tu­ni­ty arose for a nurs­ing place­ment in the ICU ward of Alice Springs Hos­pi­tal (ASH), I was very quick to grab it.

The jour­ney down from Dar­win was an inter­est­ing one to say the least. First­ly, I got stuck in Dar­win due to a recent COVID-19 out­break. Because of this, my four-week place­ment was short­ened to three. The dri­ve down was awe­some; I stopped at var­i­ous sites along the way such as Kar­lu Kar­lu and the Trop­ic of Capri­corn. When I was all but 70km from Alice Springs, I found myself stuck once again due to flood­ing over the road (a rare occur­rence in this part of the NT) so I stayed the night in the lit­tle town of Aileron and got to know some fel­low trav­ellers. The next morn­ing, I final­ly arrived in Alice Springs ready to start the next day.

Though I was so ner­vous about work­ing in a crit­i­cal care set­ting, my excite­ment and eager­ness to learn soon took over once I arrived in ICU, ASH. Every­one on the ward was so friend­ly and keen to teach. I was pushed to think crit­i­cal­ly about my prac­tice and was sup­port­ed so well when intro­duced to new inter­ven­tions such as ven­ti­la­tion and CRRT.

Both the doc­tors and nurs­es would come and find me for any­thing inter­est­ing or excit­ing that came through, and the stu­dent facil­i­ta­tors at ASH always made me feel I had sup­port and a place to debrief if needed.

There were many highs and lows through­out this place­ment. I had to learn how to be a part of those dif­fi­cult dis­cus­sions with a fam­i­ly when their loved one wasn’t going to wake up.

Through­out ASH I could see that Indige­nous Aus­tralian cul­ture is cel­e­brat­ed, acknowl­edged and respect­ed. The team of Abo­rig­i­nal Liai­son Offi­cers work­ing through­out the hos­pi­tal were incred­i­ble in help­ing nurs­es and oth­er health care pro­fes­sion­als facil­i­tate patient care in addi­tion to pro­mot­ing a cul­tur­al­ly safe envi­ron­ment for Indige­nous peo­ple of Cen­tral NT and pro­vid­ing inter­pre­ta­tion services.

On my days off I would go off and explore the Tjorit­ja West Mac­Don­nell Ranges. Some of the nurs­es in ICU gave me some awe­some tips on where to go, and thanks to the recent down­pours of rain, I got to swim in places that are usu­al­ly just dry sand beds, such as John Hayes Rock­hole. Some new friends from Alice Springs played tour guide for me and took me to some incred­i­ble spots and down some slight­ly sketchy 4WD tracks. I have to say, I have fall­en in love with the land­scape and the con­trast of colours of the Red Cen­tre and wish I had more time to explore it fur­ther. I will be return­ing here in the future, that is certain.

My time in Alice Springs and ICU, ASH was so valu­able and fur­ther ignit­ed my pas­sion for nurs­ing and learn­ing. I strong­ly encour­age any nurs­ing stu­dents to push them­selves out of their com­fort zone and take on place­ments in places like Alice Springs. The expe­ri­ence and expo­sure you will gain for your nurs­ing prac­tice and cul­tur­al aware­ness is worth the trip.

Thank you to CRANAplus so much for this schol­ar­ship, it is a huge sup­port and I appre­ci­ate it very much.

Apply for an Under­grad­u­ate Remote Place­ment Schol­ar­ship for finan­cial sup­port dur­ing your clin­i­cal place­ment, or read about the expe­ri­ences of oth­er stu­dents includ­ing Kundai and Gynette.