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International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world every 12 May with the World Health Organisation naming 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife to mark the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, who is widely regarded as the founder of modern nursing.
It seems a more prophetic year could not have been chosen as frontline healthcare workers are under a global spotlight fighting the most prolific pandemic in modern times.
There has never been a more important time to recognise and acknowledge the contribution nurses selflessly make to our society and their unwavering dedication to keeping us safe.
Ellianna Beloff is a surgical nurse at Mater Hospital Redland having just last year completed her graduate program, now working fulltime on the surgical ward. She shares what it has been like transitioning through graduate nursing and the things she loves the most about nursing.
“I would probably describe an average day at work as lovely and busy at the same time!” she said.
Ellianna said though she has finished her graduate program, learning on the job has been vital to continuing to harness her skills in the surgical unit.
“We work in teams so I always have someone to help me out and teach me things,” she said, “we work through admissions together, then send patients down for their surgery and once they have finished surgery, we look after patients in post-op care.”
Ellianna explains that interacting with patients and getting to know them is not only her favourite part of the job, but is also so important for good nursing.
“I think one of the key things we must do as nurses is acknowledge that hospitals can be really scary places for some people and that we have an opportunity to help them through a potentially tough time,” Ellianna said.
“Particularly ahead of surgery, making sure patients feel comfortable and safe, and that they feel confident in the care they are receiving can make a big difference to their hospital experience.”
Along with meeting new faces every day, Ellianna said one of the best parts of her job is the team she gets to work with.
“The team around me are really supportive of me as a new nurse,” she explains, “one of the reasons I chose Mater is for the support and extra learning I continue to get which is really helpful in a clinical environment.”
“This has been evident in the team helping my confidence to act quickly and efficiently when a patient is deteriorating quickly and in a really unstable condition”, Ellianna added.
“Watching a patient go from their worst of worst days through to full health, and seeing them walk out of hospital well again is definitely the most rewarding part of my job.”
As Ellianna’s first International Nurses Day as a qualified nurse, the day is an exciting day and a moment for her to give thanks to her fellow team members.
“We are all busy people and we all live really different lives, but we come together as a team to care for the community and on days like today, I feel so humbled to be a nurse.”
Nigel Massey is a Registered Nurse who works in Mater's Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU), caring for premature and critically ill babies. This International Nurses Day he shared what life is like working with Mater’s smallest patients.
“I began nursing in the United Kingdom where I worked in Neo-natal Intensive Care Units (NICU’s). I did a lot of retrievals, picking up babies from other hospitals and bringing them by ambulance to the main hospital, it gave me a great sense of achievement knowing these children were safe,” he said.
“After 14 years working in the UK, I was looking for a change in direction, this was around the time they were building the new Mater Mothers’ Hospital in Brisbane, I saw the position advertised so I went for it.
“I was able to meet the NCCU Nursing Director Lynne Elliott who sold me the position, I didn’t have any knowledge of Mater when I first came here but I have found it an excellent place to work and I have been here for 11 years now.”
Nigel works in pre-term medical intensive care looking after one to two babies at a time depending on their individual need and conditions.
“Days can go very quickly here; I work in general intensive care which includes respiratory care. The size and scale of the NCCU is quite comprehensive, we are a 79-bed unit providing a valuable service to families all over Queensland,” Nigel said.
“One of the biggest components of my work is actually taking care of the parents, they are under an enormous amount of stress and uncertainty while their baby is in the ward and we do everything we can to support them.
“I am very proud of the unit and the work that we do and I am able to work with a great group of people. Sometimes the days are tough but it’s what I’ve always done. I come to work every day with a smile on my face and I usually leave with one as well.”
Fortunately, Nigel and his colleagues have not treated any COVID-19 positive patients on the ward however the pandemic has impacted on their day-to-day work.
“Because I work in an area with such highly immunocompromised babies my daily hygiene practices are of a very high standard and have not needed to change. The greatest impacts we have felt have been around social distancing and visiting restrictions to the ward,” Nigel said.
“Families have been very good to us, and very understanding, it’s a stressful time for them and we are hoping we can get back to normal soon.”
International Nurses Day presents a perfect time to reflect on the many different types of work done by nurses around the world.
“For me International Nurses Day is a time for the public to reflect on the valuable work nurses do for themselves, their families, their relatives and everyone in the community,” Nigel said.
“As nurses it gives us a chance to reflect on each other and how valuable our work is. It’s a chance to praise each other and the perfect time for recognition.”
2020 is also a monumental year for Mater Education, as we celebrate ten years of our Diploma of Nursing program. We had the pleasure of speaking to Courtney, both a member of our very first cohort and now nurse at Mater Mothers’ Hospital.
Courtney, a mum of six and Registered Clinical Nurse at Mater Mothers’ Hospital Brisbane, is a shining example that there is more than one way to achieve your career goals.
Her journey has taken a lot of resilience, juggling studies with being a mum.
It was while Courtney was flicking through the newspaper that she saw the ad for the first Diploma of Nursing at Mater Education.
“My diploma experience was amazing. Yes, study with a young family was tough, but I wanted it. I graduated with the first class of the Mater Education Diploma of Nursing program in December 2011.”
Courtney’s first healthcare position post-graduation saw her based at Hervey Bay Hospital, where she excelled in the Special Care Nursery.
“I accepted a late night double shift where I was placed in the Special Care Nursery in the maternity unit for the night shift. After that shift, I was offered a permanent position there.”
Courtney and her family moved back to Brisbane following the birth of her sixth baby, and she began exploring opportunities back at Mater.
“I sent an expression of interest to the Nurse Unit Manager (NUM) of Special Care Nursery here at Mater Hospital. I was invited to interview, and got the job. I was encouraged to go to University and complete the Bachelor of Nursing. It was at this point that my marriage ended. I was a full time university student, I had six small humans to take care of, and I still worked up to a full time equivalent. Determination is all that kept me going.”
She is now a Clinical Nurse within the Special Care Nursery here at Mater Mothers’ Hospital Brisbane and she’s more determined than ever to implement positive change and get involved in graduate support.
“This year, I decided that I wanted to make a difference; I want to improve graduate experiences, and workplace culture. I’m excited to see what the future of my career brings.”
A remarkable journey and a remarkable woman, Courtney encourages applicants to really think about what career path they want to take.
“I want you to think about what kind of nurse you actually want to be, set your goals, know what you want your career pathway to include, and then get involved. And finally, do it all, remembering where you came from, and that everyone’s journey is different.”
If you’d like to see where a Diploma of Nursing can take you, learn more about our program here.
Jenny Stackelroth has worked as an Infection Control Nurse at Mater Hospital for the past nine years, she was kind enough to sit down with us and share some information about her role, what she loves about nursing and how COVID-19 has impacted her work.
“I have been working in Infection Control since 1993 with Queensland Health in a variety of healthcare settings including tertiary, corporate office, rural and remote until a position came up at Mater. I was excited for the opportunity to work in a new environment especially with babies and children, something I had never done before,” Jenny said.
“What drew me to Mater was the fact that the organisation has such a strong mission and values which I can see the staff align to in their day-to-day work.
“I enjoy Infection Control because while it’s my specialty I am able to work collaboratively with other clinicians in different areas of nursing around the hospital.”
Jenny and her team play a critical role in all areas of the hospital keeping staff and patients safe constantly surveying and improving infection control practices.
“Our team performs proactive surveillance, monitoring for patients who have an infection, we also perform auditing, hand hygiene compliance, investigations to the source of infections and provide advice to the hospital on best practice infection control,” she said.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began we have worked very closely with staff on how we respond to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. In addition to this we have had to align ourselves with international, national and state guidelines and adhere to new changes as the situation evolves.
“Throughout the hospital the Infection Control team is performing training and education sessions with staff members while working on how we can best change and adapt our environment for the safety of patients and staff when presented with new information.”
She believes the COVID-19 pandemic has alerted the global medical community to the importance of Infection Control and hopes this will continue after the pandemic has subsided.
“This pandemic has bought us closer together as a hospital and we are now working with teams we previously did not have the ability to spend much time with, I hope we can continue these working relationships in the future,” Jenny said.
“We had a really good training session in the Emergency Department where we ran a PPE refresher course, resulting in positive feedback from the staff who participated.
“Another part of our work has been ensuring the hospital is safe for patients impacted by non-COVID related medical issues, we want people to feel confident they can come to the hospital and will receive the best care in the safest environment.”
This International Nurses Day Jenny says it is a good opportunity to reflect on the work she has done throughout her career and the impact this year has had on nurses around the world.
“I think it’s a good time to step back and reflect on your role as a nurse and what you contribute to the field. Taking into account what has happened recently I wonder how we will move forward once this situation is over,” Jenny said.
“I do love nursing as a career, it has given me a lot of opportunities and I have been able to work across a wide range of different areas. It’s a career that can take you anywhere.”
Julia Margraf has been a Registered Nurse in the Mater Adult Emergency Department for the past two years. She shares what she loves about her job and how nursing has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“When I first started out in nursing I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I know you’re not supposed to say that, but I was apprehensive about nursing as a career,” she said.
“It wasn’t until I came in to the Emergency Department where I really found my feet. I love my job now, each day has the opportunity to be fast paced, full of adrenaline and excitement. No two days are ever the same and we have the privilege to see a complete cohort of patients with many unexpected presentations to challenge us each day".
Julia explains she enjoys treating patients from all backgrounds and walks of life who present to the Emergency Department with a wide range of different illnesses or injuries.
"Due to the fast paced nature of emergency departments, it is more difficult to establish rapports with patients than encounters on the ward. However we have the opportunity to provide patients with comfort and reassurance through some of their most vulnerable life experiences," Julia said.
“Some of the moments which have made a real impact on me have been the tragedies, they make the team come together to work as hard as they can to save the person’s life or to support the family members and loved ones during such a difficult time.
“The hardest days also bring us together as a team, we have a fantastic support network and it’s always great to know we can lean on each other.”
For Julia the COVID-19 pandemic has bought the Emergency Department team closer together than ever before and showed them exactly what they are capable of.
“I was amazed at how quickly we were able to adapt and integrate department changes to safely care for the expected large numbers of people who would present to us with an infectious disease,” she said.
“People worked round the clock to build an additional Emergency Department plus make necessary upgrades to ensure patient and staff safety.
“While it seems things have calmed down now and we won’t be seeing the expected large number of cases originally anticipated, I have found it to be a terrific learning experience and we are ready should we need to be.”
For Julia this International Nurses Day is particularly important as it is an opportunity to highlight the critical role nurses play in the hospital and an important reminder they are on the frontline to serve the community.
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