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As a nurse in a busy Melbourne emergency department, I decided to take some time out and “go bush” to work in 2007. After a busy couple of weeks arranging interstate registration, I took on a temporary contract nursing in a Primary Health Care Centre in an aboriginal community in Cape York, Far North Queensland.
Seeing up to 20 people a day, it wasn’t long before I needed to call on the RFDS to evacuate a sick patient from the community.
From the safety of the 4X4 ambulance I watched the evacuation aircraft circle around the airstrip at dusk and land in a blur of lights and jet engine noise and I decided there and then it was what I wanted to do with my nursing career!
I contacted the RFDS and discovered the role of the flight nurse is one of primarily emergency evacuations and patient inter-facility transfers. Although I had adequate emergency training and experience, I sadly lacked any midwifery skills-a mandatory requirement of evacuation flight nurses with RFDS.
To my surprise I discovered RFDS (Qld) offered 2 scholarships a year to suitable nurses looking to undertake midwifery training. I had heard of Deakin University’s post graduate midwifery diploma and researched the course content and duration. As an 18 month course it enable me to study and work part time whilst gaining the invaluable skills I needed to qualify as a midwife. I was lucky enough to win an RFDS scholarship, and started my training with Deakin in 2008. I graduated in 2009 and started immediately with the RFDS and relocated from Victoria to Cairns.
There is no average day for me!! Sometimes I may fly to a remote area and collect a patient who has already been seen at a clinic facility and requires transfer to a hospital. On another day I may land on a dirt strip on a remote cattle station which is only illuminated by flares or a row of car headlights to retrieve a trauma patient. On any other day I may fly an ante-nate in premature labour to a facility with a neonatal intensive care unit.
Apart from the travel, seeing the most amazing and remote parts of Australia and helping people who chose to live in rural and remote areas, the best part of my job are the amazing, motivated team of professionals I work with. It is a pleasure to work with people who love their jobs just as much as I do.
My advice to future students-follow your dreams! I never imagined I would be working within this iconic organization but with the right training and encouragement, it became a reality for me.
For more information, visit the Royal Flying Doctors Service careers wesbite.