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New starter Micah makes a difference in West Arnhem
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.
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.