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Student story: Holistic and Culturally Safe practice in Ntaria
Undergraduate nursing student Karleigh Barbour reflects on her 2022 remote placement in Ntaria (Hermannsburg), NT, where her dream of becoming a RAN began to feel more like a reality.
This CRANAplus Undergraduate Remote Placement Scholarship was sponsored by HESTA.
I have lived in WA for the last 17 years. I’ve travelled throughout this vast state from coastlines to remote lands, but something keeps calling me to the red dirt of remote Australia. This is why I jumped at the opportunity when asked if I was interested in a four-week remote area nursing placement at Ntaria (Hermannsburg) NT, 126km outside of Alice Springs. I thought to myself “wow how lucky am I!” What an amazing opportunity to work alongside remote area nurses (RANs) and Aboriginal Health Practitioners (AHPs) and consolidate my learning in a remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (hereafter, respectfully referred to as Indigenous) community.
I arrived at Alice Springs on a warm 39-degree day. The taxi ride to my accommodation felt like I had my own personal tour guide: a lovely man from Nigeria who had lived in Alice Springs for the last 10 years and was super keen to educate me on all things Central Australia. He spoke about the local history of Alice Springs (traditional name Mparntwe), the traditional custodians who are the Arrernte peoples, and the West MacDonnell Ranges (traditional name Tjoritja) which were created during Dreamtime by Indigenous ancestors and represent a rainbow caterpillar called Utnerrengatye. What a great start!
My overnight transit accommodation in Alice Springs was a lovely share house with other health students from across Australia. Big thank you to Erica from NT Health for organising all my accommodation whilst in the NT. I could not have done this without you!
The next morning, I was up super early and ready to start my journey to Ntaria. I was picked up by a lovely man from India who had lived in the NT for the last five years. Again, I felt like I had another personal tour guide.
I arrived at Ntaria Clinic and was greeted by an amazing team of RANs and AHPs keen to share their knowledge on remote area nursing, culture, and where the best places are to eat in Alice. The support I received was impeccable. I was able to consolidate my learning into clinical practice, gain new knowledge and insight, and assist with emergency evacuations with Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The local Indigenous workers were fantastic, all sharing their cultural knowledge and Dreaming stories and the different native plants/roots/seeds that support bush medicine – something I will cherish forever. All in all, the staff at Ntaria Clinic demonstrated the fundamentals of what it takes to become a great nurse. I will be forever grateful that I got to experience the holistic and Culturally Safe care they provide.
On one of my days off, one of the RANs and I went hiking through Ormiston Gorge. We ticked off the bucket list the 9km Ormiston Pound walk and what an amazing view of the Country it was. Words cannot describe the beauty of this landscape: the colours, the wildlife, and the spaces in between were truly magnificent. We also went swimming at Glen Helen Gorge (traditional name Yapalpe) where the Finke River runs through during the wet season.
I feel so blessed that I was able to experience a remote area nursing placement in the NT. The friendships, memories, and valuable knowledge I gained are priceless. I hope to become a RAN one day and make all my preceptors proud of the knowledge they gave to me.
Big thank you to CRANAplus for this scholarship. I am truly grateful for this opportunity and the support I received. Thank you!