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Centre for Remote Health

A new perspectiveEarlier this year Olivia Hawkins, Nursing student from University Technology Sydney, completed a three-week placement at the Alice Springs Hospital, supported by Flinders NT.

Flinders NT placement support includes a one-day workshop on Central Australian Aboriginal Cultures and Context, access to subsidised student accommodation, and fortnightly Interprofessional sessions.

Cherishing the knowledge and skills she gained, Olivia says that her placement experience has increased her desire to work in a rural or remote area after graduation.

Read about her experience below as published in the Spring 2019 edition of the CRANAplus Magazine.

A new perspective

Olivia Hawkins, CRANAplus Undergraduate Student Remote Placement Scholarship recipient, summarises her experience at Alice Springs Hospital.

In April 2019, I made the decision to undertake a three-week placement in Alice Springs Hospital ICU. As a student nurse who has never worked rurally I had no idea what to expect, only that I wanted to give it a try.

My first day on the ward came as a big shock. Being a rural environment, the health needs and issues are entirely different from what I was used to, along with how to treat and interact with the patients. This change in environment was beneficial in broadening my clinical skills and experience in providing care.

The hospital is small. However, the work culture is just beautiful. The staff and nurses were so supportive and it truly felt like a second home after my first week.

Whilst I was in Alice Springs I stayed in student accommodation with another student from my university, along with a student from Perth.

We hired bikes which we used to ride to and from placement and to get around town.

Being one of many students up there it was a great social life on the weekend. We managed to stay connected and often all met up in our down time. Along with this, I also found time to book a three-day camping trip tour to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. This was one of the many highlights of my trip and was an amazing experience.

Furthermore, due to the high Indigenous population in Alice Springs I was also gifted with a great opportunity to learn more about the culture, history and health needs of the Indigenous community. For example, I realised how complex the kinship system is and the way it comes into play in the healthcare setting.

I believe that after working in Alice Springs I have returned home with an entirely new perspective of Aboriginal culture and how to implement cultural safety into the healthcare setting. I gained a perspective that can only be developed through first-hand experience.

Furthermore, I came home with a desire to continue working rurally once I graduate. Having witnessed and experienced the rural health system I feel the need to return and continue to play my part in providing much needed healthcare to these areas of Australia.

Overall, this experience is one that I would recommend to any health professional. Whether it is a short-term or long-term commitment, the knowledge and skills gained are something I will cherish for the remainder of my professional career. I returned from Alice as a more culturally aware, adaptable and clinically experienced nurse. Thank you to CRANAplus for supporting me throughout this experience!

Olivia’s Scholarship was sponsored by CRANAplus and we find it a privilege to continue to support the health professionals of the future.

A new perspective

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