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Student story: Maningrida placement cements aspiring remote area nurse Gillian's passion for remote practice

12 Dec 2023

Aspiring remote area nurse Gillian Edmiston from Charles Darwin University shares insight into her four-week placement in Maningrida, an Aboriginal community in West Arnhem Land, NT, where she worked with “some of the most experienced and capable” RANs.

This CRANAplus Under­grad­u­ate Remote Place­ment Schol­ar­ship was spon­sored by HESTA.

Gillian with Abo­rig­i­nal Health Prac­ti­tion­er, Valda.

In June this year, I was lucky to attend a four-week remote nurs­ing place­ment in Man­ingri­da Com­mu­ni­ty. Man­ingri­da is an Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­ni­ty in West Arn­hem Land in the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry. I have worked in remote com­mu­ni­ties in the Top End on and off for the past five years as a sup­port work­er but have nev­er vis­it­ed Man­ingri­da before. I have always found work­ing in Com­mu­ni­ties to be hum­bling, excit­ing and some­times tough, but these times are held as some of my most mem­o­rable life experiences. 

Due to these pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ences, I have aspired to one day work as a remote area nurse in the Top End. Being offered this place­ment sparked excite­ment in me as I realised I would final­ly get a taste of what the work of a RAN would actu­al­ly look like.

So, I packed my bag and hopped on a small plane to Man­ingri­da. The flight over Arn­hem Land and the beau­ti­ful snaking rivers of the Top End is a view that every­one should expe­ri­ence in their life and is absolute­ly breath­tak­ing. Mala’la clin­ic where I was placed is an Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­ni­ty Con­trolled Health Organ­i­sa­tion (ACCHO) that sup­ports Man­ingri­da town and its near­by out­sta­tions. Mala’la offers acute health care and oper­ates many pro­grams includ­ing child health, women’s health, chron­ic dis­ease man­age­ment and mater­nal health. I was impressed with how well-staffed the clin­ic was and how wel­com­ing and will­ing to share knowl­edge every­body was.

The staff at the Mala’la clin­ic were very wel­com­ing and I was lucky enough to get expe­ri­ence in many dif­fer­ent areas.

Gillian, Car­olyn Pearse and Cathy Peirce.

The remote area nurs­es and Abo­rig­i­nal Health Pro­fes­sion­als wel­comed me with open arms and taught me the ways of the clin­ic and how to sup­port clients in the Com­mu­ni­ty setting.

My first two weeks were spent work­ing in the Healthy Under 5’s child health program.

I worked along­side two very expe­ri­enced child health nurs­es. I learnt about the chal­lenges to health access and how small issues can turn into much larg­er health con­di­tions and chron­ic dis­eases, such as rheumat­ic heart disease.

My sec­ond two weeks were work­ing in acute care and emer­gency. This fur­ther com­pound­ed that build­ing rela­tion­ships in Com­mu­ni­ties is para­mount in pro­vid­ing health care to Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Islander peoples.

The RANs work­ing in these set­tings are some of the most expe­ri­enced and capa­ble nurs­es I have come across. See­ing the extra respon­si­bil­i­ties the RANs work­ing in these set­tings take on was awe- inspir­ing. The con­fi­dence and trust in their abil­i­ties to prob­lem solve and make clin­i­cal deci­sions was very impressive

This place­ment was a whole new expe­ri­ence and real­ly cement­ed that this is where my pas­sion lies. There were many unique expe­ri­ences that you prob­a­bly wouldn’t get in an urban set­ting like a stingray barb all the way through someone’s fin­ger and creepy crawlies in places they shouldn’t be.

All of my expe­ri­ences high­light­ed the real dif­fer­ence that access to pri­ma­ry health care can make to people’s lives and the health dis­par­i­ties that occur with­in these set­tings. Thanks to CRANAplus and CDU for mak­ing this life-chang­ing expe­ri­ence possible.

Apply for an Under­grad­u­ate Remote Place­ment Schol­ar­ship for finan­cial sup­port dur­ing your clin­i­cal place­ment, or read about expe­ri­ences of oth­er stu­dents Abbey or Kate.