Rachael Brandsma
Rachael Brandsma

Rachael Brandsma

Rotary Club of Sale
Rural Nursing Scholarship 2023

Federation University, Gippsland Campus, Vic

Final Rural Placement – Bairnsdale Regional Health Service
Post Grad Placement – Central Gippsland Health Service (Sale)

Rural Nursing Scholarship Program

Why do I wish to do rural and remote training?

Nursing has been a passion of mine for quite some time, having had 5 children I was unable to achieve my dream while they were young.  Moving from the Mornington Peninsula in my 20’s with 5 kids in tow I moved to Far East Gippsland on the Wallagaraugh River situated 45 minutes form the coastal town of Mallacoota.   It was here I come to learn the paramountcy of rural nursing, which led me to enrol myself in a paediatric first aid course, as I waw aware emergency help was at least an hour away.  Despite the fact I was still unable to fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse as I lived too remote on dial up internet with no mains power running a beef farm.   This made me become more aware of the importance of nurses in the bush and their role in rural communities.

After moving again down to East Gippsland, as a mature age person I decided to enrol myself in the 3-year Bachelor of Nursing degree through Federation University as a flexi student.    Through the hardships of online study and the highs of achievement, although most importantly the support from my 5 children, I graduated in July 2022.   Finishing my degree mid-year meant I was unable to work as a Registered Nurse back home until I was offered a graduate position.   I decided to make some enquires about rural and remote contract nursing and was offered a position working for NSW Health.

I am currently on a 3-month working contract in Far western NSW in a small remote town called Nyngan.   Working in a hospital with no doctor on site, watching nurses with admiration and compassion towards their patients is truly amazing. To see the towns admiration for nurses willing to work remote and to come and help their town makes me prud to have finally achieved my dream.

I have now made some friends who work in rural communities, I have listened to their stories of travel or staying in a town longer than their contracts was intended to offer more assistance to smaller communities of Australia.   I am now staying on an extra 6-weeks myself to help and learn from these amazing outback town situated on the Bogan River.   Studying through a pandemic and now working through floods where rural communities are cut off from larger towns again inspires me to work rurally.

Final (University) Rural Report

My final placement I was allocated Bairnsdale Regional Heath Service (BRHS), this was a 4-week allocation between March and April 2022 as I finished my bachelor’s degree in July 2022.

I completed all but 3 placements at BRHS, due to Covid-19 we were unable to select our preferences. This gave me some familiarity with the hospital. My first rotation was spent in DPU and PACU for 2-weeks, BRHS has two operating rooms, I was extremely excited to have this rotation as theatre nursing has been my passion throughout my studies. During my time here I was able to be part of days of scopes, cataracts, planned Caesarion sections as well as emergency Caesarion’s, I was able to observe a gall bladder removal through keyhole as well as tumour removal. I was also able to observe the nurses and all members of the extensive multidisciplinary teams come together when something doesn’t go to plan, my last day here I witnessed how when this happens the emotional effect that this has on the whole ward.

My next 2-weeks I was place in SSU, this consists of 5 beds out the back of ED, here I was able to take on a full patient load and see the impact of Covid-19 restrictions in the hospitals. Patients here are generally not meant to stay for more than 24 hours but due to staff shortages which then impact other wards by bed blocking this saw patients staying longer than necessary. While the no-visitor rules were necessary to protect the health of patients and staff in hospitals, these restrictions also caused a noticeable hardship to staff, patients and their families.

While I write this, I have 12 days before I start my Graduate year at Central Gippsland Health (CGH), I am extremely excited to have been offered a graduate year at CGH and to be starting my new career at a small rural hospital although a hospital that is well respected throughout Gippsland. My first 4-month rotation I have been allocated the Medical Ward. I am not only looking forward to becoming part of the team here, but also looking forward to learning and expanding my knowledge.

Post Grad Rural Placement Report

Well this report brings me to the end of my first rotation and the beginning of my second. Starting with my first rotation on the medical ward which was an amazing experience. As a student becoming a ward nurse did not excite me that much but with a rotation on the medical ward at Central Gippsland Health I absolutely loved the fast pace of this diverse ward. Feeling comfortable with setting up IV medications, cannulations and vena puncture along with the amazing team of nurses and the support given was very much appreciated.

Unfortunately, once feeling comfortable it is then time to move onto the next rotation which for me is the Operating Rooms. Starting from day 1 again is a little daunting. The first 3-weeks saw me in the recovery room, feeling more like a student here as I am unable to be left alone due to the airway management of these patients and my lack of experience.  I am now in week 8 and have spent 3 weeks as Anesthetic nurse which I am enjoying.

I have found this rotation somewhat challenging thus far as due to the complexity of the specialty I am required to work alongside another nurse.

I am looking forward to taking the most out of this rotation as I can due to the complexity of such things as airway management, the different types of anesthetic drugs and what they do, along with the different types of surgeries that we complete here at Central Gippsland Health

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