Meet RN Carol – Working around life, instead of living around work

4min 30s read

RN Carol

34 years nursing experience

Working as a Registered Nurse since 1989 after 5 years of training, RN Carol has nursed in four different countries, on three different continents!

After 15 years of working in a permanent position, she decided life was too short, and took the leap of faith to begin her travel nursing career. Get inspired by her recent adventures in Tasmania and Queensland below!

1. You recently completed your contract in Rosebery, TAS. What’s a typical day like in the facility there?

Rosebery Community Health Centre opens from 8am to 4pm, seven days a week. In addition to a community nursing and Home and Community Care base, it has an Emergency First Response Unit.

It is co-located with the General Practice, so there is close liaison with the doctors there. There is a lot of interaction with West Coast District Hospital, the closest inpatient facility, along with North West Regional Hospital which is the closest tertiary inpatient facility. 

2. You’ve worked in Queensland for most of your time with us, and recently in Tasmania. What made Tasmania stand out for you?

There is so much to see and do in Tasmania. We spent nine months there and still haven’t seen and done everything yet.

One doesn’t have to travel too far to explore either. In Queensland, it takes at least five days to get from the top to the bottom of the state; in Tasmania, it takes only five hours!

The diversity in Tasmania is amazing – from the rugged west coast, to the beautiful beaches in the Bay of Fires, the old sandstone cottages in Oatlands, and the penal colony history in the south east. The air and water quality are so pure too.

3. What has been the most interesting clinical presentation you’ve seen so far?

I have seen so many interesting and standout presentations on so many different contracts! Some of the most interesting and hair-raising ones I have seen were those on very remote contracts with very limited access to secondary and tertiary health care. Patients have sometimes travelled for hours to access health care, who can deteriorate significantly during the journey.

A specifically interesting presentation I had was a mother who brought her six-year-old daughter into ED in Far North Queensland. The mother’s concern was that the child had a puffy face. That is a red flag in the Far North, and the child was tested for and diagnosed with Acute post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (APSGN). 

On other occasions, routine health checks in primary care can lead to devastating life-changing diagnoses with no warning signs. The contracts which are more remote always mean you wear many more hats than in tertiary health care – you definitely become a Specialist Generalist. Travel nursing means that I learn something new and experience something different every contract.

4. What made you decide to start your travel nursing journey?

I worked permanent full-time in a hospital for 15 years, and saw and heard about so many Grey Nomads who had retired, sold up, bought their dream caravan and hit the road for the Big Lap, only to suffer a catastrophic medical event shortly into their travels.

My partner and I decided that life was too short and Australia was too big, so we wanted to start traveling before we became too old to fully enjoy it.

We still wanted to go on hikes to visit waterfalls and lookouts, so we sold our big house, stored our belongings, gave up our permanent jobs and hit the road. It was the best decision we ever made.

Now we work around life, rather than living around work.

5. You’ve completed 15 contracts with us – what has been the highlight working with Affinity so far?

Definitely the accommodating Affinity staff. I chose Affinity because they service every state and territory, and for me it is about flexibility. Finding contracts for wherever in Australia I am at the time, rather than seeing what is available and going to that area.

My consultants have always been very agreeable to cold calling and putting me forward for dates that suit me, rather than forcing me to work around advertised contract dates. 

6. Do you have a favourite photo? What’s the story behind it?

On my contract in Longreach, I shared a house with two wonderful Affinity nurses – Jill and Rach.

One evening, the three of us went out to see the sunset for Jill’s birthday at Starlight’s Lookout, about 50km from Longreach. We climbed the hill and had drinks and nibbles with a beautiful 360-degree view. It was a lovely evening with great company. 

7. What advice would you give aspiring nurses looking to start their travel nursing career?

Just do it! But be careful to research the facilities and contracts before taking them, so that you are not placed in situations where you are out of your depth. Make sure you know what backup and support is available to you, especially if you have only ever worked in a tertiary facility with a doctor onsite 24/7.

Even if you have spent five years in a tertiary ED, things are very different in rural hospitals where you have no doctor, pathology or radiography on site. 

Don’t try and change things in a facility as an agency nurse, unless you are encouraged to do so. Saying “we do it in such way where I come from”, will most likely get the backs of permanent staff up. There may be a very good reason things are done the way they are.

As the largest agency provider in regional, rural and remote Australia, you can find your ideal lifestyle with us.

If you’re inspired to hit the road and begin your agency nursing career like RN Carol, then register with Affinity today!

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