Meet RN Jen: Working for MSF (Doctors Without Borders)

RN Jen-MSF

RN Jen

Rural/ED Nurse

1. What does your background in nursing involve?

I studied at Sydney University and took my new-grad placement in the Kimberley, WA. I then spent over three years there working in rural/remote Indigenous communities, primarily in Fitzroy Crossing.

I later worked in southern rural WA before joining Affinity and have continued to work rural/remote contracts in WA and QLD. I’ve also volunteered as a nurse in the Solomon Islands, East Timor, Ghana, the Congo and currently in Ethiopia.

2. We are so inspired to hear that you are a part of MSF (Doctors Without Borders). Can you tell us a bit about what has led you to work there?

Thank you. Actually, I was inspired by meeting staff who worked for MSF whilst I was volunteering overseas during my undergraduate in public health.

I visited an MSF refugee camp and was so impressed I then took a second degree in nursing so I could work with MSF, it has been a ten-year journey of study and work until I was ready to apply and was fortunately accepted.

Emergency helicopter retrieval during floods, Fitzroy Crossing, WA 2017.

3. What does your work at MSF involve?

I am on my second MSF mission. The first was in 2020 to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for an Ebola outbreak as a nurse supervisor, I am now in Ethiopia as a nursing manager doing mobile medical clinics for internally displaced persons affected by conflict.

Both have been emergency projects; our living situations are very basic; we are in very remote places. Transport to meet and service our clients can be by boat, helicopter, or hours on very rough roads. I have worked in Ebola tents deep in the Congolese jungle and sutured patients on my knees in the dirt under grand old trees in Ethiopia.

4. How has/does Affinity play a part in your nursing career?

Affinity has been and will continue to be the best employer for me in Australia, I have complete freedom in my choices, always supported. For me the freedom to choose when, where and for how long I work is very important. All the staff and management have been very supportive of my wish to work with MSF.

Receiving Ebola Vaccine, Lotumbe, DRC, 2020

Ebola decontamination zone, Lotumbe, DRC, 2020

5. What do you like most about the travel nurse lifestyle?

Going to a new place is like a great adventure, an opportunity to see new places and meet different people and communities. Australia is a vast place and to dream of traveling it alone is overwhelming. When you choose the travel-work lifestyle you have so many opportunities to experience different places.

You meet locals, get invited to see unique places, on your days off you can explore history and nature. You also find life-long friends and learn more than you imagined about yourself, others and your country. It is a gift.

6. What have been some of your favourite Australian locations to work in?

Western Australia. Just go there. It is incredible. Beaches untouched, roads deserted, beauty in nature at every corner. My favourite place where a big piece of my heart remains is the Kimberley, a part of my soul lives there still. The people, their ancient knowledge, the elders, their artwork, the landscape. Wherever I go I will miss it.

Differing COVID standards, Karat MSF base, Ethiopia, 2021

7. What advice would you give to other nurses who want to start travel nursing?

Just do it. You can always go home. If adventure and life experience beckon you, pack your suitcase. Just go. It will be a learning journey that will enrich your life.

8. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I would like to mix a balance of working overseas and in Australia. Whilst I enjoy working overseas and experiencing different places it can also be exhausting. I plan to build a small house on a block of land I recently bought near Albany WA. I look forward to relaxing there in the countryside surrounded by my garden and lots of native trees.

9. If there is anything else you want to add, let us know:

Big thanks to Affinity, the support through COVID, management and my placement specialists. Big shout out to Helen and Katie for being stelar in their professionalism and support…and all the other staff too many to name, but all super good in their roles. I am very grateful. Thanks team!

If you’re inspired by RN Jen’s story, sign up with Affinity now!

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