We spoke with Claire an Oncology Nurse from Donegal, Ireland about her experience working in Australia with HCA. Claire tells us what sparked her desire to travel and work in Australia, how she adjusted to living where the sun and coffee are plentiful and when the best time to work and travel is during the year and much more!
HCA: What inspired you to come to Australia?
Claire: I always wanted to explore the world and one of my favourite sayings is “the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page”. After receiving my nursing degree from Glasgow University, I worked in London at Kings College Hospital for two years, to get experience under my belt before I set off to see the world.
I had a friend who recommended HCA, so I booked a one-way flight with no regrets. I’m quite a go-getter, so I didn’t even think too much about it, I knew it was something I wanted to do. I travelled through Vietnam which was an amazing cultural experience before making my way to Brisbane where my brother was staying. Two weeks after landing in Australia, I did my first shift. I was work ready right away because I prepared everything back at home and my AHPRA was already approved.
HCA: How did you find the process of moving countries to nurse in Australia? Did HCA help you in your preparation for working in Australia?
Claire: Moving to Australia was relatively easy as I was open to the change, the food is similar and people friendly, so it was not a massive culture shock for me. I loved how laid-back the people are and how the weather is almost always sunny.
HCA was great from the beginning, my consultant helped me with AHPRA (which took 6 months), so I recommend starting on the application process as early as possible! HCA also assisted me with all the pieces in between, so I was ready to go as soon as I landed.
HCA: How have you found working with HCA as an agency nurse in Australia?
Claire: I loved the ability to travel to different states, I was lucky enough to work in the Sunshine Coast, Melbourne and Darwin. In Darwin, I got to know the aboriginal community and contribute to their healthcare services which I felt extremely fortunate to do.
The hardest part of working in an agency environment is the quiet period, there is always going to be times when the hospitals are slower, especially during the Christmas Period. It’s best to work hard during the winter and busy periods, then ‘play’ on your time off, there are so many beautiful spots to explore and you might as well soak it all up while you’re in Australia. I’m so grateful for the chance to meet new people on the wards and outside of work. Working in an agency environment is a great way to make new friends in a foreign country.
HCA: Where have you worked since you have been in Australia?
Claire: I got the opportunity to work in the Paediatric Unit at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital and I worked in the Emergency Department in the Sunshine Coast where I developed a range of different skills.
I’m currently working in 13 Health answering phones helping people with a range of issues; from mums calling in about their sick babies to people with suicidal thoughts, which can be intense. Overall, this has been a great experience working in a different environment and learning new skills.
After working in Australia for nearly 4 years, I’ve got to meet so many great people and I’ve become a natural at breaking the ice every time I step into a new ward. However, I realised that I loved what I was doing back home, so I’ll be heading to Ireland this month, then I will start work in Oncology again in England. I’ve missed my family and friends too much and want to be closer to them.
HCA: Have any experiences in Australia stood out?
Claire: My most precious moments were looking after a 6-day old baby who had respiratory issues with bronchitis and in the very same week nursing a 100-year-old lady. I really got to experience the perils of life from beginning to end. I felt very privileged to do that and it speaks volume of what you can experience working agency.
HCA: What do you love most about Australia?
Claire: Coffee, the sunny weather and laid-back attitude!
HCA: What advice would you give to other nurses who are thinking of coming out to Australia?
Claire: Speaking from personal experience, when I was working in the Intensive Care Unit I felt uncomfortable and unfamiliar with the machines. I had to speak up and tell the nurses that I was inexperienced and needed extra assistance. At the end of the day, it’s your nursing registration on the line and somebody’s life.
It’s important to always have an open mind, be flexible as there will be cancellations and challenging shifts, so always take the good with the bad. You don’t know if you will like it unless you try it, so never let fear get in the way!
Claire will be attending the Dublin Nursing and Midwifery event on Friday 30th November to answer any questions you have about working in Australia. HCA will also be travelling to Belfast, Galway, and Cork. Register to the FREE event here.
If you can’t make the event, register your interest online and the international team will be in contact to discuss work opportunities in Australia.