Perioperative Nurses week

5th – 11th October 2020

In honor of Perioperative Nurses Week, HCA contacted a couple of our own Theatre Nurses to give us some insight into life being a Theatre Nurse.

HCA’s Gabi Barnewall

“It was 1970; getting to half way through my second year of training at Prince Henry’s Hospital,St Kilda Rd Melbourne when the bug bit me! I was doing my 8 weeks of rotation in the OR. I loved it, exciting and scary at the same time. I was terrified of my senior colleagues and surgeons, when being yelled at in front of the whole team was the norm.

The discipline of cleaning the instrument racks and the glass shelves every weekend was one way to learn the difference between curved Mayo or Metzenbaum scissors and set up metal trays from scratch, with rubber rolls of silk ties, ready for Monday morning’s list. The AAA tray always ready to go and don’t ever forget the decompression board, if you don’t want to be screamed at by the surgeon and your senior. I did, never to be forgotten again. We rolled cotton balls, packed gauze, washed and repacked abdo packs, gloves and made up linen bundles to name a just a few chores. Catgut ties were in glass ampoules of alcohol!

OK so we have come a long way since then and over a span of some 5 decades, I have worked in every speciality and encountered the most extraordinary situations in time critical situations, even had a TV gig a couple of times, with several management positions in between. However I always gravitated back to Orthopaedics. What is predictable is the unpredictability of Perioperative nursing and I still love it.

Canberra hospital was my first job in OR to move up to a degree of seniority, the grading didn’t exist then in the 70’s.

Back in Melbourne, one day in the mid 80’s I dropped into the Agency, based in a tiny office in Railway Pde Blackburn at that time, only to be greeted warmly by one Tina Phillips, who hired me on the spot!

The diversity of work I was offered was fantastic, 24/7 if I wanted. Some years later, I worked out I had worked in every Metropolitan hospital in Melbourne and beyond with some 42 hospitals on my books. I have been an educator and completed my B.Appl.Sc (Nsg) with a teenage daughter to deal with and a husband taking on the role of debrief agent after a hard day.

In between I based myself in a hospital for some years until it was time to move on again. The phone call to Tina, now ASEPS/HCA, I am always greeted warmly with Welcome Back Gabi.

ASEPS will be my last employer and I have loved working for a fantastic team over the years dropping down from 15+hrs per day to a comfortable 6-8 per week…noice as Sharon would say. Thanks HCA.”

HCA’s Warren Meyer

“I had just completed my hypnotherapy internship and my focus was to continue growing and educating within the healthcare field.  A few months after returning to Perth, Western Australia from Melbourne I was selected into the Royal Perth Hospital pathology training programme. The two years training and working flew by like a blink of the eye.   I was then again yearning to increase my knowledge and skills in the medical field. I had heard about the anaesthetic technician programme and decided that it would be my next logical step. I enrolled in the programme with 17 other students. 18 months later I had completed my anaesthetic technician theory training and I then began working as an anaesthetic technician in a major teaching hospital in Western Australia.  An opportunity arose at Fremantle Hospital for me to join their PICC team, which was being run by registered nurses.  The only issue I now faced is that I needed to be a registered nurse.

Not to be deterred, I completed my RN degree, and after my graduation ceremony returned to Melbourne. At that time, I did not know the working choices available to me.  I successfully obtained a permanent position at a private hospital.  This unfortunately left me with little time flexibility.  During this period, I developed a keen interest in ceramics.  I made bowls, mugs and commission pieces which were being sold by word of mouth. I had to find something else that would enable me to pay the bills and provide some income to facilitate my new hobby. I had been directed to Healthcare Australia by another colleague that worked for them and an appointment was made with Tina.  Everything that she had outlined and described was exactly what I needed.

Healthcare Australia has provided a job that pays well, a job where I can define my own time, increasing or decreasing the hours I work per week. Healthcare Australia really changed my life. They have provided the tools that have enabled me to develop a solid life balance and for overall good mental health that I did not think was possible in the healthcare industry.  I am now able to dedicate time to increasing my ceramic skills.   In recognition of all the nurses that are part of all the perioperative teams, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you, and all the staff at Healthcare Australia.  I would also like to thank my colleagues that I have worked with over the years and those that have helped and assisted in my growth and my journey.  Here is to completing the year 2020 as quickly as possible, in a blink of the eye and moving into 2021 on a new slate kicking one goal after another.  If you are interested, please feel free to look at some of my ceramic pieces on Instagram @kysomastudios.

Credit to both Nurses for sharing their stories with us at HCA