Behind the Scenes with Joy – Life as a RAN

One of the unique benefits of travel nursing, is the abundance of positions for Remote Area Nurses – or RANs.   We often receive enquiries about RAN work and what the experience is like.

For a glimpse into the life of a RAN, check out our interview with Affinity RAN Joy below:

1.How long have you been nursing and what is your clinical background?

I’ve been nursing for approximately 16 years. My background is extremely diverse. I became ill a few years after graduating and could only work limited hours, so I became a casual at Nepean Hospital in Western Sydney. This taught me to roll with the punches and just get in and do whatever needed doing. This came in very handy when I started working remote both from the point of view of the wide range of experience it afforded but also the pace that a busy remote clinic can set.

2.What made you choose Rural & Remote as a Nursing career?

I was always interested in rural and remote work – I was drawn to it like a magnet! So I went to Alice Springs to get a taste for what it would be like. While I was there, I met renal nurses who worked remote and flight nurses, and all of them encouraged me to give remote a try.  One day a NUM in a very remote community rang me, interviewed me over the phone and offered me a job. I went and worked for that organisation for a couple of years after that.

3.What motivates you to do the agency lifestyle & why did you choose Affinity?

One night I was on a job in ICU and I met a young nurse who’d been out bush with Affinity. She gave me phone numbers and names of people to talk to. As to the lifestyle, it gives me the choice to go overseas or go to conferences or visit friends and family all over Australia. I don’t have to save up my holidays and wait to go here or there. I can factor in a visit with my family who live in WA or a friend who works in the North West with the contracts that I take. It’s an incredible freedom, all while still being actively employed.

4.What’s a typical day in a remote indigenous clinic like?

You never know what is going to come through the door next in a remote clinic. It very much depends on how remote the clinic is and what support there is available. Typically there are health checks for children and adults that need to be done, as well as immunisations. Common conditions that need managing would be heart and kidney problems.  You may have vehicle and motorbike accident victims coming in, or need to stabilise and manage a patient for a number of hours until they can be flown out. Or there may be unrest in the community itself which can lead to presentations at the clinic.  It really could be anything!

5.How do you manage your shifts and what’s essential for your own self-care?

I do whatever I have to so I’m functioning at my optimum level. I eat well and healthily. I’m transitioning to having more vegetarian meals a week. I exercise regularly or as much as I can manage. I use ear plugs and an eye mask to sleep, if necessary. I don’t let things interfere with getting enough sleep where ever possible.

6.Was there anything you wish you knew about before going Remote? Any recommendations for nurses new to agency life?

If you’re flying in you’ve often got a ten-kilo weight restriction. Some people like to take food luxuries, I often take a skillet. You never know what kind of equipment and facilities you’re going to find.  If you are driving remotely: plastic coat hangers, clothing pegs, those white plastic hooks with stick on backs for tea towels or other things you want to hang off the ground. These are often in short supply and hard to purchase.

Relationships formed in the remote parts of Australia can be deep and rewarding. You will also come across people who think they can escape the scrutiny of the general population by living in remote places. Always look after your mental health and avoid toxic personalities. Use the hotlines for mental and emotional support that are available or have close contact with a network of good friends who understand the unique pressures that you are experiencing.

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