Jessica Richards
Jessica Richards

Jessica Richards

PDG Joe Scorer
Rural Nursing Scholarship 2023

University of Wollongong, NSW

Final Rural Placement – South-East Regional Hospital (Bega)
Post Grad Placement – South-East Regional Hospital (Bega)

Rural Nursing Scholarship Program

Why do I wish to do rural and remote training?

My name is Jessica Richards, and I am a mum of two children and a wife to a supportive husband.  I am proud to say that two weeks ago I finally completed my Bachelor of Nursing at Wollongong University, Bega Campus.  My dream to become a nurse began at 18 years old, when I initially applied for a nursing degree and was accepted.   I was so excited when starting my course, however in the first few weeks of the course I began to doubt my abilities.   I then transferred to teaching.   Over the following years I had a successful teaching career as well as gaining Masters in Special Education and Teacher Librarianship.  Despite thoroughly enjoying teaching, I never stopped wondering what it would be like to be a nurse.   However, starting over in a new career seemed terrifying.   With the support of my husband, I decided to take the leap and chase my dream of becoming a nurse, beginning my degree in 2020.

Completing the degree has been extremely rewarding.  I am so excited to say I have found a new passion and hope to be a good example for my children, demonstrating to them that it is never too late to chase your dream.   Gone are the days where we need to pick a career at 18 and stick with it.   I love to teach my children that we are constantly learning and there are always such benefits from trying something new and putting yourself out of your comfort zone.

Alon with the rewards of the degree there have also been many challenges.  With a family, I needed to continue to teach whilst also studying.  One of the biggest challenges has been juggling my children in care whilst working and studying.   This will continue to be even more of a challenge next year when I begin my graduate year at South-East Regional Hospital, transferring from a teacher to a shift worker.  Both of my children will be in school, and I will need to organise and fund after school care.  If I was successful in gaining this scholarship it would be extremely beneficial in relieving some of the financial pressure the degree has placed on my family.

… Finally, I love this area and I love living rural.  I grew up in Merimbula and returning after having my children.   My family is actively involved in the community through sports and other community events.  I hope to be able to stay in this area as I believe that there are so many opportunities for nurses and for my family.   With a background in gaged care, I am really passionate about providing care for the aging population in our area.

Final (University) Rural Report

For my final 3rd year placement I was placed in the Intensive Care Unit of South East Regional Hospital in Bega. I was equally nervous as I was excited. Being such an acute ward, I was nervous that I would not understand a lot that was going or may not feel good enough to be in that nursing area. On the other hand, I was extremely excited that this would be my last placement as a student. I could see the end of my nursing degree in sight. I was also grateful to be placed close to my family home so that I didn’t need to be away from my two young children for too long.

The ICU ward consisted of 10 beds and the ratio was generally one nurse to one or two patients, depending on the acuity of the patient. All of the staff were extremely skilled in their field and appeared to love teaching. Every person made me feel welcome and each and every day I learned so many new skills that I will take with me into my grad year rotations. There were so many practical skills I was able to experience for the first time such as caring for a person with a stoma, caring for a person with a tracheostomy, caring for a person with a chest drain just to name a few.

What I loved most about this placement, is that I made many connections with staff in the hospital. Not just nurses but also doctors, ward clerks, wards men and cleaners. As I had already applied for my grad year at South East Regional hospital I knew that it was important to build connections with my future colleagues to ensure smooth transition into my grad year next year.

Whilst on the placement I received a nomination from both the hospital and my clinical facilitator from the uni for my performance as a student. This positive experience in ICU has lit a fire in me to get back into the ward as an RN. I hope to complete some further study in the area of acute care nursing as well as possibly complete a transition to practice program where I transition into the ICU after my grad year.

Post Grad Rural Placement Report

The last few months of my New Grad year have had both ups and downs. I felt that I had just begun to become comfortable and gain confidence at Pambula hospital. Although I always enjoy clarifying and bouncing things off more Senior nurses, I also found myself beginning to trust in my own clinical decision making a little more. Each shift I approached with more confidence and I even began to work with Student Nurses which was a lot more enjoyable than I anticipated. It helped me realise I knew more that I thought.  In addition, I also was able to become more confident in clinical skills such as attending to different dressings, accessing PICC lines and caring for people with Stoma’s.

On the other hand, although I was really enjoying learning about Palliative Care, I felt that the number of deaths I was experiencing was beginning to catch up on me. I started to feel very sad about all the people I had cared for and their families. Despite the support I had around me, I felt that the grief they were experiencing was beginning to rub off on me a little. Therefore, as my six months at Pambula hospital came to an end, I was looking forward to moving to Surgical ward where I may be caring for people and then sending them home back to their families.

Between the two rotations I had two weeks holidays where I stayed at home but soaked up some much needed family time.

My second six month rotation is at the Surgical Ward of South East Regional Hospital. So far I have only been at the ward for two weeks. It has been extremely overwhelming but all of the staff have been very supportive. There is so much to learn including all the different surgeries, the pre and post op procedures, administering IV antibiotics as well as all the other new medications and clinical skills that are new to me. At the moment I feel like I am in a constant state of anxiety and overwhelm but I am making sure that I ask lots of questions and clarify with Senior staff when needed. I am giving myself a couple of months to settle in and find my feet.

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