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The Adventures of a ‘True Blue’ Rural & Remote Nurse

Merle's Rural & Remote nursing adventure

Whilst sitting, relaxing under a boab tree in the remote Kimberly region, I realised that I had no desire to return to the ever-frantic city Emergency Department (ED) where I’d been working for the past fourteen years.

What a wonderful feeling of freedom – I had complete control of where I worked, how long I stayed, and when I worked again.

The Adventure

Merle on Badu Island

In 2005, I left the ED and became part of a small group of Nurses wandering the countryside with little more than the bare necessities – a few clothes, a Kindle loaded with books, some food and a few essential cooking utensils. We go deep into the unknown, at times unreachable, and then reappear weeks or even months later in a completely different location; always armed with incredible tales to tell.

I have never returned to the “real” world where a Nurse’s role is by the book. The R&R Nurse is a Nurse, Driver, Mechanic, Cleaner, Stores Person plus a number of other roles that come up along the way.

Friends for Life

In the R&R world, I have formed some lifelong friendships Denyse, Beth, Ponee, Dr Manny and more recently the lovely Rhiannon. Where and when will I see them next, only time will tell.

Travelling to Communities

The travel to communities comes in many modes. A little eight seater that bounces over the desert dunes where you can sometimes get a glimpse of a wild donkey or horse. Other times, a flight over the reefs and blue waters of the Torres Strait where you may be lucky enough to see a turtle or dugong!

Currently, in Central Australia, we have a driver in a 4WD who takes us safely over the rough, sandy, muddy roads out to the remote communities. Our driver was actually a R&R Nurse for many years so along the journey she shares her remarkable stories and experiences. She makes the long trips fly by. She drops us off, waves goodbye and with a smirk says, “See you in a few weeks you poor bugger”.

There are many ‘Crazy’ moments when we need more than a Mintie!!

One ‘Crazy’ R&R moment occurred when I was working in a remote Kimberley clinic. I was one of two Non-Midwife Nurses that had just arrived that day and I happened to be on call that night. The shift had flown by until at 6:30 AM, where I heard lots of noise and banging on my door, followed by “Nurse, Nurse, I’m having baby pains”. Whilst frantically flicking through the CARPA manual for the guidelines, this was a great reminder that as a R&R Nurse one must cope with confidence in any situation.

This amazing moment was still to come – I delivered the little 32 weeker and had to resuscitate this little man until Royal Flying Doctors Service arrived four hours later. He’s now a delightful, cheeky 3 year old.

The solace is that at any time we can have direct contact with the Doctor and most clinics have very experienced permanent staff, both indigenous and non-indigenous, who have a huge reservoir of knowledge to share.

The Serenity

Merle on Torres Strait island

 

As evening approaches and the clinic is closed for the day, we have time to relax and enjoy a walk as the sun sets – always mindful of dogs, pigs, emus, snakes and the occasional camel. The stars are so bright against the night’s sky and, depending where you are, the stars take the most amazing shapes.

Create Your Own Adventure

In 2017, HCA Rural & Remote is offering FREE Travel to and from all +6 week placements*. If you’re looking for an adventure, the HCA team can deliver. Register your interest below to hear about their latest opportunities, you won’t regret it!

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