Tammy-Lee Chatwin
Tammy-Lee Chatwin

Tammy-Lee Chatwin

Motto Fashion
Rural Indigenous Nursing Scholarship 2023

Federation University, VIC

Final Rural Placement – Bairnsdale Regional Service
Post Grad Placement – Gippsland & East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-Operative

Rural Nursing Scholarship Program

Why do I wish to do rural and remote training?

I have had a wonderful journey throughout my university studies and have been very grateful for everyone who has supported me.   Originally, I have managed to achieve to win the 2020 Academic Excellence Award and 2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Federation University student of the year.   I feel very privileged and proud to have won these awards and hope they will inspire others that anything is possible if you at least start the journey.   Although saying that I have struggled a little this year to achieve the marks I wanted.   Due to the number of placements, I had to work7 days a week to save money to attend the residentials and placements which came to 12 weeks this yar.   This left me with not much study time and a result was event though I learned the most I ever had I never achieved the marks I wanted.

One of the placements I did attend required me to live in Melbourne for 5 weeks.   I had 2 weeks’ notice to get ready for a placement at the Royal Childen’s Hospital working in the cardiac and renal wards.   What an amazing experience this was, and it only happened because of the scholarship money I received from the Indigenous Health scholarship.   I had the scholarship money to pay for transport and accommodation.  I will never forget my time there and learned so money form a committed team.    But my heart is in the country and so my hopeful and final placement will be in a rural and remote hospital and finish on Christmas eve.   I started my nursing journey in 2013 after being successful in the Indigenous traineeship at the Bairnsdale Regional Health Service (BRHS).

My wish for the future is to work in Indigenous health and made a difference for the greater community.   I want to help deliver care that looks after the whole person in a holistic manner.  I have found a passion for rural and remote nursing and hope to travel into remote areas and nurse in the Indigenous health sector.   I feel I can lead by example and encourage other First Nation people to look to the health sector for employment and study opportunities.

Rural and remote areas are struggling to find nursing staff to deliver programs to prevent illness and improve quality of life for chronic health suffers.   If we are to make change in these communities, we need to support and mentor local population to take up career opportunities to fill gaps from the lack of health professionals.

Final (University) Rural Report

The last semester of my Bachelor of Nursing has been a surreal feeling. You know the end is near but with so many assessments and the long placements it almost feels overwhelming to keep going. But with willpower I usually do not possess I continued to keep ticking the endless requirements off. Then came the last placement I was lucky enough to get a placement closer to home and in areas that I had not had the opportunity to work in before.

The first part of the placement was in theatre working mainly in anesthetics. It is quite daunting starting placement, and this is only more stressful in Covid-19 times. You may turn up and staff are stressed they see you as a burden another job to attend so at the beginning of placement I am always stressed. I am lucky I know a lot of the staff over the years but that still does not mean I will not encounter the student shuffle.

In anesthetics it was the Doctors that taught me. As they knew I was there for several weeks they introduced me to their techniques, preferred set ups and even started quizzing me on drugs and how different complications would be managed. As many Doctors work in the Emergency Department also this teaching continued when I was flipped to resus, and they let me participate in sedating patients for transport to ICU and resus for Acute Myocardial Infarct just to name a few.

Many a time I think my heart was racing faster than the patient but I kept calm and followed direction. I was lucky to have the most amazing educators at BRHS every time they heard the emergency calls go out, they would come and guide me through allowing me to get hands on experience. The weeks just rushed by and before I knew it the last days had arrived. This was it !!! If I had passed all my assessments, I would be a Registered Nurse.

When I began this journey, I was so sure of where I would work and even the ward, I wanted to be on but now I am at the end it has all changed. I have realized my community needs me. We are not closing this gap we have tried but it will not work unless we get in at the root of the problem. We need more workers on the ground going to the communities and engaging in a way that promotes the empowerment of the community not dictating how it should be done. So, as I close the chapter of my Bachelor of Nursing, I now start on my found passion of lower the rate of death to our community many are just 30 and dying from cardiovascular disease. In the last month in Bairnsdale, we have had more community members having heart attacks in the 30-50 age group than any other.

Many of these have made the journey to dreamtime as a result. They leave behind young children and scared and shattered loved ones and most of the time this is preventable. And when I checked the statics only 2 people in 12 months has finished cardiac rehabilitation in East Gippsland that identify as ASTI. So, this is my future for a while to gain experience and knowledge to make change.

Post Grad Rural Placement Report

I was asked to help with two accreditations, one through NSQHS and the other through AGPAL. These two places cover Dental and Medical. They were desperate lol and so I took on the challenge with a trusted co-worker Joshua. We had to develop and apply quality activities. Redesign systems and overhaul the current activities that is required for the centre to run.

Joshua and I had multiple late nights and at times felt like we were going to be the reason the place closed.

We finished the portals and then the assessors arrived on site for several days.   I am very proud to say they have stated that the information we have uploaded and provided was the best they have ever seen, and they even offered us a job. The walk through of our centre, client interviews and engagement with staff rated just as high as the portal.

This was all new to me and has been the most educating experience. Instead of saying why would they do that I now have an appreciation of the reasons behind decisions. Also, it has opened an area to my nursing I never thought I would enjoy so much. I have always thought my greatest weakness would be this area so having such a result meant even more to me.

So, one extreme to another I have been working closer with palliative care clients and their families. I meet with them and help them stay at home with their loved ones. Indigenous people do not call it palliative care they refer to it as Journey to the Dreamtime which I find so peaceful sounding. It distills fear automatically by eliminating the word palliative. It sums up the whole experience perfectly. It is not one thing but lots of small steps to the final stage. Instead of thinking death they see it as supporting them to have the best life along this journey they walk. I am very honored to be a part of their journey.

I have been asked to join the VACCHO advisory board to improve clients’ experience with palliative care so that will be part of my next adventure.

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