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New starter Micah makes a difference in West Arnhem

12 Dec 2023

The recipient of the 2023 Early to Remote Practice Award, Micah Haslam RN, describes receiving the award as a surprise and honour. Here, she talks about her newfound love of Gunbalanya.

Mic­ah (right) with Abo­rig­i­nal Com­mu­ni­ty Work­er Rox­anne Naborl­h­borlh (left) at Injalak Hill in Gunbalanya.

The 2023 Ear­ly to Remote Prac­tice Award was spon­sored by Flinders Uni­ver­si­ty – Rur­al and Remote Health.

A going remote’ fly­er caught Micah’s eye back in 2022 when she was work­ing at the Dar­win Hos­pi­tal, after she and a friend had road-tripped up from Mel­bourne for a change of scenery. 

The plan was to stay [in the NT] a year, and now I’ve been here for three years,” she says. 

I must admit I didn’t real­ly know what was involved with [going remote]. I saw part of the pro­gram was a four-wheel dri­ve course, and I thought That sounds awesome’. 

So I applied and now here we are,” Mic­ah laughs. 

Upon delv­ing fur­ther, Mic­ah decid­ed to under­take a sup­port­ed tran­si­tion to remote and on-call via a North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry PHN pro­gram which includ­ed the fol­low­ing cours­es: CRANAplus’ Remote Emer­gency Care (REC) and Mater­ni­ty Emer­gency Care (MEC), Flinders University/​Centre for Remote Health’s Tran­si­tion to Remote Area Nurs­ing, and pharmacotherapeutics. 

Before I start­ed doing remote, in the ear­ly days, I was real­ly ner­vous to do on-call, where you’re just talk­ing to the doc­tor on the phone, and you don’t have all of the sup­port team around you,” says Micah. 

But the REC course gave me a lot of confidence. 

Lat­er down the track I did the MEC, which I found to be one of the best cours­es ever, I loved it. I think a lot of peo­ple com­ing out of it [feel inspired] to do their midwifery.”

If you pass over the East Alli­ga­tor Riv­er at Cahills Cross­ing, and head down the dirt road for about 20 min­utes, you’ll find your­self in Gun­bal­anya, a large remote town in West Arnhem. 

With the right prepa­ra­tion under her belt, Mic­ah under­took her first remote health place­ment here in Sep­tem­ber 2022 and hasn’t looked back. 

It’s stun­ning,” Mic­ah says. They call it Stone Coun­try here because it’s escarp­ments all around you. It’s sur­round­ed by flood plains, and there’s a big bill­abong in town where you can see all the croc­o­diles. It’s just beautiful.”

She was nom­i­nat­ed for this award by her man­ag­er who over­saw her place­ment when she first arrived in Gunbalanya. 

She was with me when I first start­ed doing remote and was a great sup­port. She saw me evolve from the start of my remote nurs­ing career to where I am now,” says Micah.

The award recog­nised Micah’s sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the health and well­be­ing of the com­mu­ni­ty where she has strength­ened part­ner­ships with com­mu­ni­ty ser­vices, par­tic­u­lar­ly teach­ers, and built rela­tion­ships with com­mu­ni­ty Mums and her health pro­fes­sion­al colleagues.

The role has seen her pro­vid­ing edu­ca­tion to fam­i­lies and immu­nis­ing the 0 – 5 cohort, organ­is­ing the school screen­ing pro­gram and coor­di­nat­ing doc­tors, teach­ers, nurs­es, and admin­is­tra­tive staff. 

Mic­ah ini­tial­ly felt ner­vous to work with chil­dren but found encour­age­ment in the poten­tial to improve child health through strong rela­tion­ships and reg­u­lar engage­ment, and has recent­ly decid­ed to take on the chron­ic child health port­fo­lio to ensure that vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren are sup­port­ed, and con­nect­ed with the nec­es­sary allied health and NDIS services.

She also plans to under­take a Well Women’s course to fur­ther expand her scope and knowl­edge of women’s screen­ing, con­tra­cep­tion and repro­duc­tive health. She has fin­ished her place­ment but remains in Gun­bal­anya in a per­ma­nent position.

I was a bit suss because every­one was try­ing to get me to go to Cairns, and I knew there was a CRANA con­fer­ence on,” says Mic­ah, who was inter­state at the time of the awards ceremony. 

I got the award down at the Bill­abong. It was real­ly nice, one of the local ladies pre­sent­ed it to me, so it was real­ly lovely.”

Every day is some­thing dif­fer­ent. I’m work­ing with a great team, in a beau­ti­ful com­mu­ni­ty and I feel very wel­come here,” she says. I love it here and I’m not ready to leave!”

For Mic­ah, some of the best parts of her new career include vari­abil­i­ty; an expand­ed scope of prac­tice; the beau­ty of the land­scape; and the hon­our of liv­ing and work­ing along­side and pro­vid­ing care to First Nations people. 

Any­one who is think­ing about remote, I high­ly rec­om­mend it,” she says.

It’s just an amaz­ing job doing things that you real­ly nev­er thought you would do, and you see some amaz­ing stuff. 

Thank you to CRANAplus and Flinders Uni­ver­si­ty for the award, it’s an hon­our and I real­ly appre­ci­ate it.” 

For more infor­ma­tion on our awards and the nom­i­na­tion process vis­it CRANAplus Awards.